Kabul hit by 'co-ordinated' attack

Taliban says strike on police headquarters marks experimental shift in tactics.

    Police said no attacker's body was found [AFP]

    The Taliban claims to have carried out a co-ordinated rocket and bomb attack in Kabul, saying it is using a new tactic to strike at the heart of the Afghan capital.
     
    The authorities said at least five civilians were killed, and several others wounded, in the attack near the governor's compound in the centre of Kabul on Saturday morning.
     
    The compound houses the governor's office, courts and police offices.
     
    Najib Nekzad, an interior ministry press officer, said the deaths occurred when a rocket was fired towards the police station but instead landed in a crowd of civilians.
     
    Moments later, a car loaded with five 107mm rockets detonated near the compound.
     
    General Zahir Azimi, a defence ministry spokesman, said two of the rockets exploded, at about 8:20am (03:50 GMT), but the other three did not.
     
    Owen Fay, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Kabul, said: "The Taliban claim that this latest attack is effectively an experiment.
     
    "What they are trying to find out is if they do have the means, the wherewithal to co-ordinate an attack that includes both explosives on the ground and shoulder-fired missiles shot from the hills surrounding Kabul."
     
    Remote detonation
     
    No attacker's body was found, Nekzad said, leading police to believe that the attack was detonated remotely.
     
    A police officer at the scene, Mohammad Amin, said he saw the truck before it exploded, and that it was loaded with bags and a large rocket launcher. He said the attack did not appear to be a suicide bombing.
     
    The Taliban promise attacks will increase
    in the coming months [Reuters]
    He said: "That rocket launcher was aimed toward the police chief's headquarters. He tried to hit it with all those rockets, but when the third explosion happened the truck was destroyed."
     
    Several shops in the area were damaged by the force of the  explosion.
     
    Zabihullah Mujahed, a Taliban spokesman, said his group had carried out the attack, which he confirmed was aimed at the Kabul police headquarters.
     
    Fay reported: "The Taliban say this marks a new shift in tactics. It's something they haven't tried in Kabul before and it's what they're going to attempt to do throughout the next few months."
     
    The interior ministry said the bombing was "unprecedented" and  appeared to be a new "terrorist tactic".
     
    Suicide attacks
     
    The Taliban regularly uses suicide raids and roadside bomb attacks as part of its fight against the US-backed Afghan government and foreign troops.
     
    In early December, Taliban bombers attacked twice around the time of a visit by Robert Gates, the US defence secretary.
     
    A bomber slammed his car into a bus filled with Afghan soldiers in Kabul on December 5, killing 13 people.
     
    On December 4, a Nato convoy was hit by a similar attack close to the capital's international airport. There were no casualties among Nato forces, but 22 Afghans were wounded, according to Nato.
     
    The deadliest suicide attack in Kabul hit an army bus in September and killed 28 army personnel.
     
    More than 10,000 people have been killed in the past two years, the bloodiest period since US-led forces overthrew the Taliban government in 2001.
     
    An increasing number of Afghans are frustrated with the lack of progress towards peace.
     
    Fay said the military says the attack is evidence of a desperate Taliban trying to prove it is still relevant.
     
    The Taliban, however, say it is part of a wider-scale operation against British, Afghan and Nato forces in the south, and the attacks are going to increase in the next few months.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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