Insurgents took aim Sunday at Afghanistan’s security forces, ambushing an army bus in the capital, Kabul, and storming an army recruitment center in the north of the country. At least eight Afghan soldiers and police were killed in the two attacks.
The Afghan police and army are considered key to the West’s exit strategy, which calls for the nation’s forces to take over security responsibilities across the country in the next three years. That plan was endorsed at a NATO conference last month and again last week in a White House assessment of the Afghan conflict.
The Taliban movement claimed responsibility for the twin assaults Sunday and warned that it would continue targeting Afghan forces as well as Western troops. This year has been the deadliest of the 9-year-old war for the NATO force, which on Sunday announced the death of another service member in an explosion in the south of Afghanistan; the nationality of the deceased was not immediately disclosed.
The attack on the army bus in Kabul took place during morning rush hour on a heavily traveled road, sending motorists scrambling for cover. The Defense Ministry said five soldiers were killed in the strike, which involved a squad of gunmen and bombers. One of two suicide attackers managed to detonate his explosives; the other did not.
The army recruiting center that was targeted in the other attack is in Kunduz, a once-peaceful northern city that has been the focus of sharply intensified insurgent activity over the course of the last year. That early-morning attack, too, was carried out by a team of assailants and set off a firefight that continued for more than an hour, said Mahboobullah Saeedi,a spokesman for the Kunduz governor’s office.
Saeedi said two soldiers and a police officer were killed, and several others were wounded, but some reports put the total death toll at five.
Yaqoubi is a special correspondent.