The Taliban plead guilty to the failed attack on the acting Defense Minister of Afghanistan, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, the day before. They also announced further struggle for several major cities in the country and further attacks on representatives of the authorities.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement issued warned that Tuesday’s attack on acting Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi was “the beginning of retaliatory operations” against senior government officials for their bombing campaign. It referred to a series of aerial attacks launched in recent days by the Afghan army in an attempt to hinder the Taliban from attacking several major urban centers.
An explosion in front of the home of the Afghan Minister of Defense
Tuesday’s attack in Kabul was the first military action of this magnitude carried out by the Taliban in months. The Afghan capital was shaken by several large explosions, including a car bomb explosion accompanied by a firearms attack. Eight civilians were killed and around 20 were injured.
According to the AFP, it took Afghan security forces about five hours to break the resistance of the attackers, all of whom died. Following the attacks, many Kabul residents, responding to a government call on social media, climbed onto the roofs of their houses or took to the streets to bolster Afghan forces shouting “Allah Akbar”.
“The Taliban detonated bombs in Kabul, but people chanted” Allah Akbar “and that is the difference between real and fake Muslims, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a speech to provincial councilors on Wednesday.
Government forces counterattack
Defense spokesman Fawad Aman said Wednesday that a counterattack by government forces had begun in Lashkargah, the capital of the southwestern Helmand province. “The operation is being carried out slowly and carefully as the Taliban use people’s homes as shelters and civilians as shields,” a spokesman wrote on Twitter.
General Sami Sadat, the highest-ranking military officer in southern Afghanistan, called on the people of Lashkargah to evacuate. “Families who can afford it or have a car have left their homes. But families who cannot afford it, like us, have to stay home. We don’t know where or how to go” – quotes AFP from one of the city’s residents .
Taliban offensive in the south and west of Afghanistan
In the past three months, the Taliban has seized vast rural areas in the south and west of Afghanistan and key border checkpoints in the wake of a swift military offensive that began after international troops began to withdraw from the country.
After encountering weak resistance in the countryside, they channeled their forces into large urban centers, surrounding several of the province’s largest capitals. These cities are under the control of government forces, but – as AFP emphasizes – the collapse of one of them would have a devastating psychological impact on the authorities.
For several days, fighting has been going on on the outskirts of Kandahar (south) and Herat (west) – the second and third largest city in Afghanistan. In Herat, however, authorities said on Tuesday that they had started to break the Taliban attack.
The AFP points out that the specter of a return to power of the Taliban who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to the end of 2001, imposing a strict version of Islam before being overthrown by the international coalition, is very worrying both for the people of the country and the international community. The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Taliban of murdering civilians for alleged links with government officials. HRW also claims that many are trapped in territories recently conquered by the Taliban.
Main photo source: JAWED KARGAR / PAP / EPA