Taliban suicide bomber strikes intelligence facility in Ghazni

A suicide bomber dispatched by the Taliban detonated his explosives-laden vehicle outside of a facility run by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) in Ghazni earlier today. Preliminary casualty reports indicate that more than one dozen people were killed, including security personnel, while approximately 150 to 200 others were wounded. The injured include dozens of children who were at attending a nearby school.

A Twitter account attributed to the Taliban’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, quickly claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing. In the tweet, which can be seen below, the jihadist claims that a “Key NDS base in Ghazni city” was “targeted with [a] martyrdom attack using” a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) at 8:30am local time. The Taliban claims that initial information “suggests” the base was “completely destroyed,” with “tens of NDS agents, troopers & workers killed/wounded.”

Though the Taliban targeted a security building, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the “indiscriminate & disproportionate Taliban attack today against a NDS facility in #Ghazni.” UNAMA cited preliminary information indicating that the explosion “caused at least 150 civilian casualties, almost all injured, including more than 50 school children.”

U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, who is engaged in negotiations with the Taliban, also condemned the bombing. However, Khalilzad did not specifically blame the Taliban in his tweet, which can be seen below. The Taliban had claimed responsibility hours earlier in multiple languages, including English.

Khalilzad claims that the latest talks in Doha have led to “significant progress on ALL 4 parts of a peace agreement: counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, participation in intra-Afghan dialogue & negotiations, and permanent & comprehensive ceasefire.” The American diplomat said several months ago that he was already satisfied with the Taliban’s counterterrorism “assurances,” despite the group’s decades-long alliance with al Qaeda.

Not only does the Taliban continue to fight side-by-side with international and regional terrorist groups, its men also regularly employ common terrorist tactics – such as the suicide bombing in Ghazni earlier today. Indeed, the group has executed several significant suicide raids in recent days.

On July 1, the Taliban deployed a car bomb near an Afghan Ministry of Defense building in Kabul. A lengthy gun battle ensued, as a number of Taliban fighters stormed the complex. The Zabihullah Mujahid Twitter account claimed that assault as well, writing: “Heavy explosions taking place inside MoD Logistics & Engineering Center. Martyrdom seekers are using explosives & eliminating enemy depots, working quarters & other important targets.”

The July 1 raid led to civilian casualties, including schoolchildren who were wounded. UNAMA denounced the “complex attack,” saying it “began with the detonation of explosives and caused scores of civilian casualties, among them women and many children, and led to damage to schools and other civilian infrastructure.”

UNAMA also criticized the Taliban for showing a “reckless disregard for the safety of innocent lives,” as the attack began when “children were arriving at nearby schools.”

Regardless, the Taliban defended the July 1 operation, arguing that the media was “publishing images of the few people injured while completely ignoring the deaths of enemy officials killed in the attack.” The Taliban dismissed the wounds suffered, claiming that only a “few people” suffered “minor injuries due to shards of glass breaking in far-off homes” and that “no civilians died.”

On the evening of June 29, the Taliban launched another high-profile operation, using four stolen Humvees to bomb a district police headquarters in the southern province of Kandahar. The attack took place in the district of Maruf, killing eight election workers and a number of soldiers. The workers were reportedly working to register voters for Afghanistan’s delayed elections.