Death toll in Kabul military base attack climbs to 10 – USA TODAY
One NATO coalition soldier and nine Afghan contractors were killed in an attack on an American military base in Kabul, one of three attacks to hit the capital Friday,Â the U.S. military said.
The nationality of the soldier was not immediately confirmed, butÂ CNN and Fox News reported thatÂ the servicemember was an American.
Fighting continued into the early morning hours of Saturday after the attack on Camp Integrity, an American base in the area, The New York Times reported.
Hundreds of NATO servicemembers, foreign contracted civilians and others were wounded in the Friday night attack, NATO spokesman Col. Brian Tribus told the Associated Press. The Afghans killed were working for NATO’s Resolute Support mission on Camp Integrity.
The attack and two massive bombings in the city earlier in the day call into question Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s ability to tamp down the violent insurgency that is roiling the country despite his administration’s focus on making peace with the Taliban.
The death toll in the three attacks topped 50, making it the single bloodiest day for the Afghan capital in recent years, local and foreign officials told The Wall Street Journal.
“We strongly condemn the series of insurgent attacks in Kabul,” U.S.Â State DepartmentÂ spokespersonÂ Mark Toner said in a statementÂ Saturday.
The attacks “demonstrate again the insurgencyâs complete disregard for the lives of innocent Afghans. Such actions have no justification,” he added. “We again call upon the Taliban, other Afghan militant groups, and anyone supporting them to bring an end to violence in Afghanistan.”
Camp Integrity is run by U.S. security contractor Academi, which was known as Blackwater before being sold to investors.
The Taliban issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack on the base. It said four attackers were involved, with one blowing up a car at the entrance to enable the other three to enter the base.Â The Interior Ministry said 10 security guards were injured and three insurgents killed by Afghan security forces as they tried to enter.
The assault on the camp came hours afterÂ a suicide attack on a police academy in Kabul that killed 20 people and wounded at least 24.Â The Taliban said they were also behind that attack in which a person dressed in police uniform mingled with cadets returning from their weekend break.
Earlier Friday, a truck bomb in a residential area of Kabul killed 15 people and wounded more than 200, in one of the most devastating attacks on the capital since the insurgency began in 2001. The blast flattened a city block and left a 30-footÂ crater in the ground.Â No one has yet claimed responsibility for the explosion, though officials have indicated they believed the Taliban were behind it.
The Taliban often do not claim to have organized attacks that kill large numbers of civilians, especially women and children. There has been no official word on what the target for the truck bomb might have been though it is widely thought to have detonated prematurely and destroyed the apartment building, rather than a government target.
The use of such huge quantities of explosives is rare in Kabul, though in recent weeks truck bombs have become more common in insurgent attacks elsewhere in the country. Security forces say they have thwarted a number of attempts to bring large caches of explosives into the capital. At least one has exploded this year while attempting to enter the city limits.
The attacks on Friday follow a week of turmoil with the Taliban after the Afghan intelligence service announced that its leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, had been dead for more than two years.Â After the Taliban confirmed Omar’s death, a leadership struggle engulfed the upper echelons of the group. The Taliban last weekÂ named his replacement, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour.
Omar’s death has thrown the already-fragile peace talks between the Sunni Islamists and the Afghan government into flux, CNN reported. A second round of talks was slated to take place in Islamabad on July 31, but was postponed after the Taliban confirmed Omar’s death.
Michael Semple ofÂ the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice at Queens University Belfast told CNN that Mansour’s rise may bode poorly for the peace talks.Â “He is the one who has presided over the movement during a period of escalation of the violence,” Semple said. “Actions speak louder than words.”
In a recently released audiotape that purports to be from Mansour, the new leader denies that the group is attempting to work toward peace:Â “When we hear about different processes including the peace process, they are all the propaganda campaigns by the enemy,” the message says.
It continues:Â “We will continue our jihad and we will fight until we bring an Islamic rule in the country.”
Fighting between the Taliban and Afghan forces has caused almost 5,000 civilian casualties this year, according to a recent report by the United Nations.
Contributing: Associated Press
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.