Afghan forces end ISIL attack on ministry in Kabul

Afghan forces end ISIL attack on ministry in Kabul

Afghan forces end ISIL attack on ministry in Kabul

On Wednesday, militants launched a gun and bomb attack on the Interior Ministry in Kabul, killing a policeman in another demonstration of their ability to strike at the heart of the Afghan capital.

Another four police and eight civilians, including two children, were wounded in the attack early Wednesday, said Shah Poor Ahmadzai, spokesman for the provincial police chief.

A spokesman for the ministry, Najib Danesh, said eight suicide bombers were involved in the attack, which began with a vehicle bombing outside the compound.

It appeared to be a rare victory for Afghan security forces, who have struggled to secure the capital in recent months.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack a few hours later in a statement released by ISIS' media wing, Amaq Agency.

While saying the USA attack had disrupted the Taliban network in Helmand province, including its drug trafficking, Nicholson stopped short of saying the killing of dozens of insurgent commanders would have a decisive impact on the war. No one immediately claimed the attack.

The Amaq statement did not provide the names or specify the number of attackers.

"These strikes represent one of the largest blows to Taliban leadership in the a year ago", U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and Resolute Support commander, said in the press release. Nicholson said 50 of these commanders had been tracked to Musa Qala and targeted by U.S. rocket artillery.

Nicholson said that by wearing USA military uniforms, militants were trying to confuse security forces and delay their response to the attack.

"The idea that we're making the same kind of progress (as in Colombia) is grasping at straws for justification", said Jason Dempsey, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for New American Security think-tank who deployed twice to Afghanistan. While the strike by an artillery rocket system would disrupt Taliban operations, it would not necessarily mean any interruption to the fighting, he said. "Also a change in USA tactics ... more targeted strikes, special operation raids, etc., is likely to be driven by the conditions on the ground", he said.

But Nicholson, who has sought to drive the Taliban to the negotiating table by bringing to bear increased U.S. military pressure, maintained that violence and progress can coexist.

The Taliban are also stepping up their assaults on the capital, making the heavily fortified city the deadliest place in the country for civilians. That conclusion contrasts with assertions last fall by the American military that the Afghans, with US support, had "turned the corner" and captured momentum against the Taliban, which it called fractured and desperate.

Gen. Nicholson made the remarks during a video teleconference briefing the reporters in Pentagon from Kabul.

Hundreds of Afghan forces have been killed in the Taliban attacks, raising further questions about the viability of holding long-delayed parliamentary and provincial council elections slated for October ahead of next year's presidential vote.

"He is a very thoughtful guy [and] a very analytical person", Mr. Sedney said of Gen. Miller, with whom he worked closely during the two-star general's stint as head of all US special operations forces in Afghanistan in 2013.

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