Afghanistan conflict: Deadly attack on Kabul military base

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BY BBC NEWS,29TH JAN 2018-Militants have attacked an army base near a military academy in the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing at least 11 soldiers.

Sixteen other Afghan soldiers were injured, a defence ministry spokesman told the BBC.

Five militants were involved, said the spokesman. Four were killed in the attack but one was arrested.

The attack has been claimed by the Islamic State (IS), according to the militant group’s Amaq news agency.

Earlier reports said the attack had taken place at Marshal Fahim National Defense University, which is near the military base.

It comes days after the deadliest bombing for months hit Kabul when Taliban militants in an ambulance packed with explosives killed at least 100 people.

Militants change tactics

Secunder Kermani, BBC News, Kabul

Both the Taliban and IS seem now to be focussing their energies on carrying out attacks in Kabul. Government officials say it is a response to progress made by the security forces elsewhere in the country. US air strikes have helped push the Taliban back from some parts of Helmand Province for example.

However, it could also just be that the militants have decided attacking the capital is a more effective way of undermining confidence in the government and attracting international attention than trying to capture and retain territory in rural areas.

The chief of the Afghan intelligence services said on Sunday he believed the upsurge in attacks was a response to increased US pressure on Pakistan. The US and Afghanistan accuse Pakistan of providing safe havens to militants and President Donald Trump recently suspended security aid to Islamabad. Pakistan has denied the claims.

Whatever the reason, it is clear that violence in Kabul is on the rise.

How did Monday’s attack unfold?

Several explosions were heard, as well as small-arms fire, as the attack began at about 05:00 local time (00:30 GMT) at the military base in western Kabul.

Two attackers blew themselves up, two others were killed by security forces and a fifth was arrested, defence ministry spokesman Gen Dawlat Waiziri told the BBC.

Four AK-47 assault rifles, one suicide vest and one rocket-launcher were seized, he said.

The president’s spokesperson said none of the attackers had been able to get further than the first gate, Afghan news website Tolo reports.

Afghan military institutions are frequently targeted by militants.

Has the academy been targeted before?

In October 2017, 15 military cadets were killed in an explosion outside as they were leaving by minibus.

That attack was attributed to the Taliban.

Marshal Fahim National Defense University is sometimes referred to as “Sandhurst in the Sand” as it is closely modelled on the British officer training academy.

How bloody has the surge in attacks been?

Apart from the ambulance bomb and the attack on the academy, an aid agency and a hotel have been targeted in the past week.

Funerals for the victims of Saturday’s attack took place over the weekend
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