A group of ISIS fighters assaulted a military academy in Kabul early Monday morning, killing 11 Afghan troops and capping a bloody week in the capital.
It was the third major attack in Kabul in the past nine days. The attacks — two claimed by the Taliban and one by ISIS — have killed more than 130 people and wounded hundreds more.
They have also raised fresh fears about whether Afghan security forces can protect the seat of the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan, let alone the country as a whole.
Monday’s pre-dawn raid targeted the Marshal Fahim National Defense University located on a military base at the edge of Kabul. The assault commenced with a suicide bombing of soldiers providing security for the academy, followed by a shootout with the troops, reports the Associated Press, citing an Afghan defense ministry spokesman.
Afghan officials say at least five insurgents were involved in the attack. Two of the militants were killed in the gunfight, two detonated suicide vests, and one was arrested by Afghan security forces.
The attack comes just two days after a suicide bomber driving an ambulance packed with explosives blew up in downtown Kabul, killing more than 100 people. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing, which targeted a street lined with government offices.
Over the previous weekend, Taliban gunmen raided Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel. In a 13-hour siege targeting foreign guests, the militants killed 22 people, including four Americans.
Increased U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan under President Donald Trump has not improved the security environment in Kabul, which has been the scene of several devastating attacks on government and civilian targets over the past year. The increasing tempo of attacks on Kabul suggests the Taliban and other insurgent groups will be especially active when the upcoming fighting season begins this spring.
The essential component of the Trump administration’s strategy in Afghanistan involves the formation of combat advisory teams at the battalion level, which deploy in support of Afghan government forces near the front lines of the fighting. Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said last fall that additional U.S. advisers will help the Afghan military take control of 80 percent of the country over the next two years.
U.S. forces face an uphill climb in attaining that goal, according to recent inspector general reports on the war effort in Afghanistan. The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction said last year that Afghan forces face a robust Taliban insurgency, increasing casualties, and recruitment shortfalls.
SIGAR also revealed that the Taliban controls nearly 40 percent of the entire country and one-third of the population.
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