A wave of attacks on Afghan army, police and U.S. special forces in Kabul on Friday killed at least 50 people and wounded hundreds, dimming hopes that the Taliban might be weakened by a leadership struggle after their longtime leader’s death.
The bloodshed began with a truck bomb that exploded in a heavily populated district of the capital and ended with an hours-long battle at a base used by U.S. special forces. It became the deadliest day in Kabul for years.
The radical Islamist insurgents claimed responsibility for both the police academy attack and the battle at the U.S. special forces base, though not for the truck bomb.
The scale of the violence heightened obstacles to reviving the stalled peace process and conveyed a no-compromise message from the Taliban at a delicate time following last week’s revelation of Mullah Mohammad Omar’s death and an ongoing dispute over leadership of the radical Islamist insurgency.
“The question is, who is sending the message?” Thomas Ruttig of the Afghanistan Analysts Network said.
The number of casualties from Friday’s attacks was expected to rise as details continued to emerge from the authorities.
On Saturday, NATO-led coalition forces confirmed that one international service member and eight Afghan contractors were killed in the attack on Camp Integrity, a base used by U.S. special forces near the main airport.
The blast outside the base was powerful enough to flatten offices inside, wounding occupants who were airlifted by helicopter to military hospitals during the night.
“There was a big explosion at the…