A suicide car bomber killed 15 Afghan army cadets as they left their military base in Kabul on Saturday, in the second deadly attack in the capital within 24 hours.
“This afternoon, when a minibus carrying army cadets was coming out of the military academy, a suicide bomber on foot targeted them, martyring 15 and wounding four,” said Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri.
It was not immediately clear who carried out Saturday’s attack, but a resurgent Taliban has been attacking military post and installations with devastating effect, while Islamic State (IS) militants have stepped up attacks against Shiite mosques.
IS claimed responsibility for Friday evening’s suicide bomb attack inside a Shiite mosque that left 56 dead and another 55 injured.
Over the past five days there have been seven major attacks that have left more than 200 dead.
The barrage of deadly assaults underscores the deteriorating security situation across the country
NATO’s Resolute Support mission tweeted that the latest strike was an “attack on the future” of Afghanistan and its security forces.
“This attack in #Kabul shows the insurgents are desperate and cannot win” against Afghanistan’s security and defense forces, it said.
Attacks on the rise
But among the recent attacks, one of the deadliest — claimed by the Taliban — killed about 50 Afghan soldiers during an attack on a military base in the southern province of Kandahar on Thursday.
The militants blasted their way into the military base using two Humvees packed with explosives. It was one of three such attacks this week, according to officials.
The base, in the Chashmo area of Maiwand district, was razed to the ground, according to the Defense Ministry.
More than 50 people were killed in Friday’s attack on the Imam-e-Zaman mosque in Kabul
On the same day, Taliban militants surrounded a police headquarters in the province of Ghazni, attacking it for the second time in a week.
Afghan security forces have endured soaring casualties as they struggle to hold back the insurgents. Their casualty rate has accelerated since NATO withdrew its combat forces from the country at the end of 2014.
The number of casualties jumped 35 percent in 2016, with some 6,800 soldiers and police officers killed, according to SIGAR, a US watchdog.
Insurgent attacks against security forces have become more sophisticated over the past year. SIGAR described Afghan casualty rates in the early part of the year as “shockingly high.”
Friday’s mosque attack underscores the fragile security situation in Afghanistan
An attack on a military base in Mazar-i-Sharif in April was devastating, killing 144 people. Similarly, an attack on a military hospital in Kabul in March killed as many as 100.
People are growing increasingly angry at the government’s inability to protect them, particularly in Kabul, where nearly 20 percent of the country’s civilian deaths in the first half of the year occurred.
“If our government officials cannot protect us, they have to resign and let other competent officials take charge,” said an eyewitness to the mosque bombing Friday night.
bik/tj (AFP, Reuters, dpa)