KABUL, Afghanistan – The Taliban claimed responsibility on Wednesday for an attack on the home of a senior military official in Kabul that killed eight people, highlighting the insurgents’ ability to strike at the heart of the Afghan capital as they continue their comprehensive military campaign.
The raid began around 8 p.m. on Tuesday with a car bomb detonating outside the home of Acting Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi. Several hours later, further explosions and intermittent gunfire were heard in the city center after armed men stormed the building and security forces fought to rescue about 80 people trapped inside.
The complex attack – the biggest Taliban offensive in the city in nearly a year – penetrated into a neighborhood inhabited by many senior Afghan officials and close to Kabul’s heavily fortified Green Zone. It comes as the insurgents push the front lines of their military campaign from rural areas deep into the provincial capitals of southern and western Afghanistan.
A Taliban spokesman described the raid in Kabul as “the beginning of revenge attacks,” noting that the insurgents planned to target Afghan military officials and the small contingent of foreign forces still in the country to protect diplomats and Kabul International Airport after Withdrawal of US forces.
Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Taliban “will not remain indifferent” towards these groups and will “stand against them with full force.”
Minutes before the initial blast on Tuesday, Mohammad Azim Mohseni, a member of parliament who is Mr. Mohammadi’s neighbour, left his home where dozens of people had gathered earlier in the night to attend prayers mourning his mother’s death. He said that after the explosion, an attacker entered his house and killed four people, while other attackers opened fire from outside.
“A number of our civilian neighbors – including women, children and men – were killed and injured,” said Mr. Mohseni.
Officials said two police officers, an employee of the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation and his child were among the eight people killed in the raid. The defense minister survived the attack, but some of his guards were among the 20 injured, he said Video message posted on Twitter.
Addressing the Afghan people, he said: “I assure you all that such incidents will not have the slightest impact on our morale or our decision to defend you and my country.”
However, the Taliban’s attack on the home of a senior military official in central Kabul sent a worrying message to the country’s military leaders, whose forces have been battered since international forces began withdrawing in May and the Taliban launched a major military offensive.
And in a dangerous escalation of its campaign, the group has imposed a blockade in recent weeks on Three regional capitals – Herat in the west, Lashkar Gah and Kandahar in the south – after invading many rural areas of the country. The rebels now control more than half of the country’s four hundred individual provinces, According to some reviews.
With the attack taking place on Tuesday, Hundreds of Afghans They poured into the streets of Kabul, chanting “Allahu akbar,” or “Allahu Akbar” to show support for Afghan security forces. As others joined in the cheer from rooftops and windows, their voices echoed throughout the city.
The day before in Herat, the capital of the province of the same name, residents also marched in the streets, chanting the phrase in a show of defiance of the Taliban as they surrounded the city.
But in a sign of the conflict that will come as the Taliban advance into modern urban areas, on Wednesday Mr. Mujahid called the protesters “American slaves and laymen”.
He added that anyone who stands by the Afghan forces “will be credited for the sake of God.”
merciful starAnd Sherif Hassan and Fatima Faizi Contribute to the preparation of reports.