KABUL: Militants on Monday raided a military academy in Kabul, the Afghan capital, killing 11 soldiers, the fourth major attack in a spate of violence over the past nine days that is putting a new, more aggressive US strategy under the spotlight.
Five gunmen attacked an army outpost near one of Afghanistan’s main military academies on Monday and 11 soldiers were killed and 15 wounded before the attackers were subdued, the defence ministry said.
IS claimed responsibility for the attack near the Marshal Fahim military academy on the city’s western outskirts, in which four of the gunmen were killed and one captured.
It came two days after an ambulance bomb in the city centre killed more than 100 people and just over a week after another attack on the Hotel Intercontinental, also in Kabul, killed more than 20. Both of those attacks were claimed by the Taliban.
Ministry of Defence officials said the five militants, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles, attacked the outpost near the well-defended academy just before dawn.
“The Afghan National Army is the country’s defence force and makes sacrifices for the security and well-being of the people,” the ministry said.
Security officials at the scene said the gunmen had used a ladder to get over a wall into the post.
In October, a suicide attacker rammed a car full of explosives into a bus carrying cadets from the academy, known as the Defence University, killing 15 of them.
While militants claiming allegiance to IS operate in mountains in the eastern province of Nangarhar, little is known about the group and many analysts question whether they are solely responsible for the attacks they have claimed in Kabul and elsewhere.
IS claimed an assault on the office of aid group Save the Children in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Wednesday in which six people were killed.
The attacks have put pressure on President Ashraf Ghani and his US allies, who have expressed growing confidence that a new, more aggressive military strategy has succeeded in driving Taliban insurgents back from major provincial centres.
The US has stepped up its assistance to Afghan security forces and its air strikes against the Taliban and other militant groups, aiming to break a stalemate and force the insurgents to the negotiating table.
However, the Taliban have dismissed suggestions they have been weakened and said Saturday’s bombing was a message to President Donald Trump.
Ghani, speaking alongside visiting Indonesian President Joko Widodo, said the Taliban claim of responsibility for the Saturday blast, even though it inflicted so many civilian casualties, showed that their “overlord” wanted to make a statement of defiance.
The surge of violence is unlikely to sway the US strategy, or breathe life into stalled efforts to get peace talks going. The US military and the Afghan government say big attacks on civilians are evidence that the militants are being squeezed in the countryside. — Reuters