Gunmen attack intelligence training centre in Kabul

Hugh Fox
August 19, 2018

Last Friday, hundreds of Taliban fighters had launched an attack on Ghazni, the capital of the Ghazni province, leading to five days of clashes between the rebels and the security forces that killed almost 500 people, including 326 Taliban fighters, and over one hundred members of the security forces.

The public health ministry has put the death toll at 40, and rights group Amnesty International condemned the attack as a "war crime".

Investigators said the bomber entered the centre from a rear entrance and made his way into a classroom where more than 100 students had gathered. The remaining victims will be taken to their villages to be buried there, said Gulam Hassan, the cousin of one of the victims.

His brother, Nusratullah, was around 17 years old, he said, sobbing over the phone. "Now... I am not sure he will survive".

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No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but Jawad Ghawari, a member of the city's Shiite clerical council, blamed IS, which has carried similar attacks on Shiites in the past, hitting mosques, schools and cultural centres.

There were no other casualties, he said, and no group has claimed the attack. Scores of Taliban were also killed, according to Afghan officials.

The insurgents hung on in Ghazni for almost five days before US-backed Afghan forces flushed them out.

Security forces were on patrol and no militants were in sight in the centre of the shattered city, with fighting seeming to have ceased. He did not say if all the victims were students and whether any of their teachers were also among the casualties.

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The Taliban's five-day siege of Ghazni eased on Wednesday after Afghan officials declared that they had regained complete control of the city by killing hundreds of Taliban fighters.

Before his death, Azam was apparently irate over the Afghan Army's decision to use three helicopters to transport the ISIS captives from Jawzjan province to Kabul instead of re-supplying his base, the Times reported. That gives the government a strong incentive to build on recent, tentative signs that diplomatic efforts to kick-start peace negotiations are starting to bear fruit, he said. The insurgents roamed freely around Ghazni, destroyed shops, forced civilians to cook, and used some as human shields during the clashes. "For the insurgents, the thinking is, "why quit when we're ahead"?"

More than 1,000 schools across Afghanistan remain closed for security reasons and at least 86 have been destroyed by militant attacks this year alone, according to United Nations figures.

The surge in violence comes just weeks after Afghans marked an unprecedented country-wide ceasefire between the Taliban and government forces in June, giving some temporary relief to civilians.

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