At least 11 soldiers were killed and another 15 wounded when gunmen stormed an army outpost near a military academy in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul.
The Islamic State (ISIS) terror group claimed responsibility for the attack, according to its Amaq news agency.
Five militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles attacked the outpost, near the Marshal Fahim Military Academy, before dawn on Monday (January 29). Two attackers blew themselves up, another two were killed in fighting and one was captured, officials from the Ministry of Defense said, according to Reuters
“The Afghan National Army is the country’s defense force and makes sacrifices for the security and well-being of the people,” the ministry said.
The attack came just two days after the Taliban, a Sunni fundamentalist political movement, said it was behind an ambulance bomb that killed 103 people and injured another 235. It was one of the deadliest bombings to hit the capital in months.
The Taliban said the bombing was a “clear message” for U.S. President Donald Trump, who last year sent more American troops to Afghanistan and ordered more air strikes in the country.
“The Islamic Emirate has a clear message for Trump and his hand kissers that if you go ahead with a policy of aggression and speak from the barrel of a gun, don’t expect Afghans to grow flowers in response,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.
Earlier in January, the Taliban killed more than 20 people during a siege at Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel.
Around the same time, ISIS said it was behind an attack on the office of aid group Save the Children in the eastern city of Jalalabad. Six people died.
The Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 1996, imposing a strict version of Islam and persecuting anyone who would not abide by their laws. Although Taliban rule ended following a U.S. invasion in 2001, its insurgents still control some areas of the country.
“The war on terror that followed the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks may have diminished the capacity of the Taliban to carry out attacks in the short term , but the U.S. coalition did not implement enough measures to root out the underlying reasons why the Taliban became relevant in the region,” anti-terrorism expert David Otto told Newsweek.
ISIS controls swathes of territories in Iraq and Syria and, through local alliances, in parts of Africa and Asia. The group is progressively losing territories in Iraq and Syria, leading to thousands of foreign fighters to go back home or flee to other countries, where analysts fear they could re-group or join other organizations.
Taliban and ISIS have competed for supremacy in Afghanistan since the latter established a foothold in the country in 2015.
“They are trying to establish their authority through competitive attacks against hard military targets,” Otto explained.
“The Taliban are masters of the terrain, but ISIS is desperately in search of a territory that will place it back on the global map after, loosing Raqqa and Mosul.
“The Taliban are back in full strength and they have a competitor in ISIS, at the detriment of the Afghan regime. This shows that it is easy to take out an old regime, but to replace it with an effective one is the biggest challenge,” Otto concluded.
David Otto Institutional Representative of SECINDEF (Security Intelligence and Defense) Israel-USA International Consulting Counterterrorism in the United Kingdom and collaborating analyst of OCATRY (Observatory against the Terrorist Threat and the Jihadist Radicalization) David Otto is the Director of TGS Intelligence Consultants Ltd and the Preventing Radicalisation and Violent Extremism Programme – Step In Step Out (SISO) – based in the United Kingdom. He is also Senior Counter Terrorism Advisor for Global Risk International.