15 Afghan army cadets killed in attack on forces

AFP
Kabul, Publish Date: Oct 22 2017 12:20AM | Updated Date: Oct 22 2017 12:20AM
15 Afghan army cadets killed in attack on forcesFile Photo

A suicide bomber killed 15 Afghan army trainees as they were leaving their base in Kabul today, the defence ministry said, as militants step up their deadly attacks across the war-torn country.

It was the second suicide bombing in the Afghan capital in 24 hours and the seventh major assault in Afghanistan since Tuesday, taking the total death toll to more than 200, with hundreds more wounded.

The attack comes after a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque in Kabul yesterday, killing 56 people and wounding 55 others in an assault claimed by the Islamic State group.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the ambush but the Taliban has been involved in the previous four attacks on police and military bases this week.

"This afternoon when a minibus carrying army cadets was coming out of the military academy, a suicide bomber on foot targeted them, martyring 15 and wounding four," defence ministry spokesman DawlatWaziri told AFP.

Kabul Crime Branch chief General Mohammad Salim Almas said police have launched an investigation into the attack which happened in the west of the city. "The minibus was carrying army trainees to their homes from Marshal Fahim military academy," Almas told AFP.

NATO's Resolute Support mission tweeted that the latest incident was an "attack on the future" of Afghanistan and its security forces. 

"This attack in #Kabul shows the insurgents are desperate and cannot win" against Afghanistan's security and defence forces, it said. 

It was the fifth time since Tuesday that militants have launched a major attack against Afghanistan's beleaguered security forces already badly demoralised by high casualties and desertions.

In the deadliest of the recent attacks, around 50 Afghan soldiers were killed in a Taliban-claimed assault on a military base in the southern province of Kandahar on Thursday.

Afghan security forces have faced soaring casualties in their attempts to hold back the insurgents since NATO combat forces pulled out of the country at the end of 2014. Casualties leapt by 35 per cent in 2016, with 6,800 soldiers and police killed, according to US watchdog SIGAR.

The insurgents have carried out more complex attacks against security forces in 2017, with SIGAR describing troop casualties in the early part of the year as "shockingly high".

The attacks included assaults on a military hospital in Kabul in March which may have killed up to 100 people, and on a base in Mazar-i-Sharif in April which left 144 people dead. (AFP)