Militants attack army post near military academy in Afghan capital — Message to Trump for State of the Union

Reuters

KABUL (Reuters) – Gunmen attacked an army outpost near one of Afghanistan’s main military academies on Monday and five soldiers were killed and 10 wounded before the attackers were subdued, the defense ministry said.

 Image result for Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers stand guard at the entrance gate of Marshal Fahim military academy in Kabul, Afghanistan January 29, 2018, photos

Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers stand guard at the entrance gate of Marshal Fahim military academy in Kabul, Afghanistan January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack near the Marshal Fahim military academy in the western outskirts of the capital, Kabul, according to the militant group’s Amaq news agency.

It came two days after an ambulance bomb in the center of the city killed more than 100 people and just over a week after another attack on the Hotel Intercontinental, also in Kabul, killed more than 20.

Both of those attacks were claimed by the Taliban.

Ministry of Defence officials said the five militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles attacked the outpost near the well-defended academy just before dawn.

Two of the attackers blew themselves up, two were killed in fighting and one was captured, the ministry said in a statement announcing that the fighting was over. Five soldiers were killed and 10 wounded, it said.

“The Afghan National Army is the country’s defence force and makes sacrifices for the security and well-being of the people,” the ministry said.

While militants claiming allegiance to Islamic State operate in mountains in the eastern province of Nangarhar, little is known about the group and many analysts question whether they are solely responsible for the attacks they have claimed in Kabul and elsewhere.

The attack came as the president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, was due to visit Kabul.

Indonesia has the world’s biggest Muslim population and Widodo has proposed that Indonesian Islamic scholars could help promote Afghan peace, media reported recently.

MESSAGE TO TRUMP

 Image result for Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers stand guard at the entrance gate of Marshal Fahim military academy in Kabul, Afghanistan January 29, 2018, photos

An Afghan security force member stands guard in front of the Marshal Fahim military academy in Kabul, Afghanistan January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Earlier, resident Mohammad Ehsan said he heard a series of explosions coming from the area beginning at around 5 a.m. (0030 GMT) and lasting for at least an hour, with smaller blasts continuing at less frequent intervals.

In October, a suicide attacker rammed a car full of explosives into a bus carrying cadets from the academy, known as the Defence University, which is home to one of Afghanistan’s main officer training schools, killing 15 of them.

The wave of attacks has put pressure on President Ashraf Ghani and his U.S. allies, who have expressed growing confidence that a new more aggressive military strategy has succeeded in driving Taliban insurgents back from major provincial centers.

The United States has stepped up its assistance to Afghan security forces and increased its air strikes against the Taliban and other militant groups, aiming to break a stalemate and force the insurgents to the negotiating table.

However, the Taliban have dismissed suggestions they have been weakened and said Saturday’s bombing was a message to U.S. President Donald Trump.

“The Islamic Emirate has a clear message for Trump and his hand kissers that if you go ahead with a policy of aggression and speak from the barrel of a gun, don’t expect Afghans to grow flowers in response,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement, using the term the Islamist militants use to describe themselves.

Saturday’s blast in one of the most heavily protected parts of the city, close to foreign embassies and government buildings, was the worst seen in the Afghan capital since a truck bomb near the German embassy killed 150 people in May.

With Ghani embroiled in confrontation with provincial powerbrokers defying central rule, pressure is mounting on the government to set aside political divisions and focus on security.

The United States and Afghanistan have accused Pakistan of helping the Taliban in a bid to undermine old rival India’s growing influence in Afghanistan.

Pakistan, which denies accusations it fosters the Afghan war, condemned the attack and called for “concerted efforts and effective cooperation” to tackle militancy.

Afghanistan declared Sunday a day of mourning for the victims of Saturday’s blast and said Monday would be a day off to allow care for the victims’ families.

Reporting by Omar Sobhani; Additional reporting by Nayera Abdallah in CAIRO; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Robert Birsel and Paul Tait

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BBC News

Afghan security forces patrolling a street near the site of the attack
Security forces have blocked off the roads near the site of the attack. Reuters photo

Militants have attacked an army base near a military academy in the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing at least 11 soldiers.

Sixteen other Afghan soldiers were injured, a defence ministry spokesman told the BBC.

Five militants were involved, said the spokesman. Four were killed in the attack but one was arrested.

The attack has been claimed by the Islamic State (IS), according to the militant group’s Amaq news agency.

Earlier reports said the attack had taken place at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University, which is near the military base.

It comes days after the deadliest bombing for months hit Kabul when an ambulance packed with explosives killed at least 100 people.

IS and the Taliban have increased their attacks on targets in the country in recent days.

Several explosions were heard, as well as small-arms fire, as the attack began at about 05:00 local time (00:30 GMT) at the military base of the Afghan National Army in the west of Kabul.

Two attackers blew themselves up, two others were killed by security forces and another one was arrested, defence ministry spokesman Gen Dawlat Waiziri told the BBC.

Four AK-47 assault rifles, one suicide vest and one rocket-launcher were seized, he said.

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The president’s spokesperson said none of the attackers had been able to get further than the first gate, Afghan news website Tolo reports.

Afghan military institutions are frequently targeted by militants.

A surge in violence

The base is near the Marshal Fahim National Defense University which the Taliban have targeted before.

In October 2017, 15 military cadets were killed in an explosion outside the Marshal Fahim military academy as they were leaving by minibus.

The university is sometimes referred to as “Sandhurst in the Sand” as it is closely modelled on the officer training academy in Britain.

Monday’s deadly attack is the third in just over a week to have rocked the country.

On Saturday, more than 100 people were killed in a suicide bombing when attackers drove an ambulance past a police checkpoint into a district with many government buildings and embassies.

a group of men carrying a coffin up a dusty hill, with city buildings in the distance
Funerals for the victims of Saturday’s attack took place over the weekend. EPA

One week earlier, another attack on a Kabul hotel killed 22 people – mostly foreigners. Six militants stormed the hotel in suicide vests the attack continued for several hours until Afghan troops regained control of the building.

The Taliban said it had carried out both those Kabul attacks.

IS said it had carried out a suicide attack on the international charity Save the Children in the city of Jalalabad last week.

Three members of staff and at least two others were killed in the attack and the siege of the compound.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-42855374

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