KABUL: Gunmen and suicide bombers launched a pre-dawn attack claimed by the Islamic State group on a military compound in Kabul Monday, killing 11 soldiers in the third major assault in the Afghan capital in recent days.
The series of assaults, including one of the deadliest bombs in Kabul in recent years, have left already war-weary citizens grief-stricken and angry as the Taliban and IS escalate their offensive.
Monday’s attack on an Afghan army battalion killed at least 11 soldiers and wounded 16, a defence ministry spokesman said.
“Two bombers detonated themselves and two were killed by our forces and one was detained alive,” the spokesman, Dawlat Waziri, told AFP, adding that the attack was over.
Officials said the men, armed with a rocket, two Kalashnikovs and at least one suicide vest, had attempted to breach an army battalion near the Marshal Fahim military academy, where high-ranking officers are trained.
An officer at the academy told AFP he could hear an explosion and gunfire, while other witnesses said the first blasts and gunfire came around 5:00 am (0030 GMT).
The gunmen did not enter the heavily fortified compound on the western outskirts of the city, an Afghan security source said. Security forces have swarmed into the area and blocked roads leading to it.
In October a Taliban suicide bomber killed 15 Afghan army trainees as they travelled home from the Marshal Fahim academy.
Militants including the Taliban and IS have stepped up their attacks on beleaguered Afghan troops and police in recent months, sapping morale already hit by desertions and corruption.
Afghan troops have taken what the UN describes as “shocking” casualties since international forces ended their combat role at the end of 2014, though troop casualty figures are no longer released.
Last Saturday a Taliban suicide attacker driving an explosives-packed ambulance blew it up in a crowded area of the capital, killing at least 103 people — mainly civilians — and wounding 235 in one of the worst bombings in the city in recent years.
The blast was a chilling demonstration of the militants’ ability to penetrate the heart of Kabul despite stepped-up security since a massive truck bomb killed some 150 people and wounded hundreds last May.