Sunday, August 9, 2015

Scores Dead in Wave of Suicide Attacks in Afghanistan

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack, in Afghanistan's northern Kunduz.

At WSJ, "Afghanistan Attacks Kill at Least 77":
KABUL — Violence surged in Afghanistan over the weekend including three separate bombings in the capital Kabul in one day—a wave of attacks that left at least 77 people dead.

It was the first spate of attacks on the capital since deep divisions emerged within the Taliban leadership over who should succeed their spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar. The insurgents, however, have sought to dismiss talk of any rift after the Afghan government and the Taliban revealed last week that Mullah Omar had been dead for more than two years.

The latest attack struck the northern province of Kunduz on Saturday night. A suicide bomber targeted members of an irregular anti-Taliban militia, killing 25 people, according to a local police spokesman.

The Taliban, who have been battling Afghan forces for control of Kunduz for months, claimed responsibility.

On Friday, three separate attacks jolted Kabul, leaving more than 50 dead in less than 24 hours, according to Afghan and foreign officials. It was the deadliest day in years in the capital. The Taliban claimed responsibility for two out of the three attacks.

Friday’s violence ended a period of relative calm in the Afghan capital, where there hadn’t been a major security breach in more than a month.

The spike in attacks further complicates efforts led by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to broker a peaceful resolution to the 14-year conflict with the Taliban.

“We are still committed to peace but we will respond to such terrorist attacks with full force,” Mr. Ghani said in a statement on Saturday.

The Taliban have formally named a new leader, Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour, who had been effectively in charge of the group for years.

But the appointment was immediately opposed by several senior Taliban, and religious scholars close to the movement are seeking to mediate between the rival factions, say people close to the extremist group.

The series of attacks on Friday began with a truck bomb that exploded near an Afghan military intelligence compound. Fifteen people were killed and around 300 wounded in one of the most powerful explosions to have ever shaken the Afghan capital. It left a deep crater, and caused residential and commercial buildings to collapse, a scale of destruction rarely seen in the city.

Scores of women and children were among the victims.

“Kabul, as the capital, should be an example for security in the country—but that’s not the case,” said Luca Radaelli, the country head of Emergency, an Italian nongovernmental organization that runs three hospitals in Afghanistan.

“The situation is just getting worse.”

No one claimed responsibility for the truck bomb. A Taliban spokesman said the group was assessing whether its fighters were involved...

Also at AP, "Security Tight After Devastating Kabul Attacks," and Reuters, "Suicide attack kills 29 in northern Afghanistan."

PREVIOUSLY: "Afghanistan: At Least Six Dead in First Major Taliban Attack Since Leadership Transition (VIDEO)."