The April 2016 Kabul Attack

Afghan security forces inspect the site of suicide car bomb attack on a government security building in Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. © Ahmad Masood / Reuters
Afghan security forces inspect the site of suicide car bomb attack on a government security building in Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. © Ahmad Masood / Reuters

On the morning of 19 April 2016, Taliban militants attacked a security team responsible for protecting government VIPs in Kabul, Afghanistan. The initial attack killed 64 people and wounded 347. It was their biggest attack on an urban area since 2001.

That evening, a suicide bomber targeted the local broadcaster which initially reported the incident, killing six of their employees as well as one unidentified victim and injuring at least 20 others.

Bombings

Local broadcaster TOLOnews reported that the attack involved a suicide bomber detonating a vehicle laden with “hundreds of kilograms of explosives” and the militants then making their way into the compound of “Department 10” of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and opening fire. The bomb that detonated caused a ceiling to collapse in a classroom where elite intelligence officers were being trained. An Afghan security official said members of that unit accounted for about half of the people killed. The local broadcast station said that a two-hour gun battle ensued between the militants and security forces. Later in the day, a Taliban suicide car bomber targeted a minibus owned by Kaboora production company, which is affiliated to TOLOnews, killing seven people during the evening rush hour. The bus was taking employees home from the office in central Kabul when the attack took place, at around 5:00 PM local time.

Developments

Sediq Sediqi, a spokesman for the Afghani Interior Ministry, said that despite the target, most of the victims were civilians. Ismail Kawasi, spokesman for the Public Health Ministry, said that 327 wounded have been brought to area hospitals. On 20 April 2016, Sediqi confirmed in a tweet that 64 “innocent Afghans” were killed and 347 wounded.

Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack. He said as many as 92 security staff and soldiers were killed. It came after the group announced its annual “spring offensive”, Operation Omari.

After the evening attack, the Taliban released another statement through an email to Al-Jazeera claiming responsibility for the evening bombing. The statement said, “Kabul resident Faridullah conducted the attack. The vehicle (a minibus that was targeted) has been under our surveillance for a long time.”

TOLOnews confirmed in a live broadcast that the bus was Kaboora’s and that six of their staff had been killed. The identity of the seventh victim is unknown. Ismail Kawusi said that at least 20 people were wounded in the bombing, including women and children. The evening bombings came after a threat by the Taliban the previous year to target the television channel after it reported allegations of summary executions, rape, kidnappings and other abuses by Taliban fighters during the battle for Kunduz. The Taliban had said then that the reports were false.

Reactions

– Domestic

President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement saying that the attack proved that the Taliban were growing weak and therefore resorting to asymmetric warfare. Shortly after the attack, women’s rights activist Wazhma Frogh wrote on Twitter that the attacks took place near schools and that parents were attempting to protect their children.

– International

– – Supranational unions

  • NATO: General John W. Nicholson, Jr., commander of the Resolute Support Mission, said the attack was a sign of the Taliban’s weakness.

  • United Nations: The Security Council said that those involved should be brought to justice.

– – Countries

  • India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that his condolences and that his prayers were with those affected by the attacks.

  • United States: White House spokesman Josh Earnest called for the Taliban to cease activities that harmed civilians, and to instead “pursue a pathway of peace.” The Embassy of the United States, Kabul said the attack underscored the harm the Taliban continued to inflict on the Afghan people.

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