Taliban suicide bomber strikes police HQ in Kabul

The Taliban claimed credit for a suicide car bombing that targeted a police district headquarters in the Afghan capital of Kabul today. The bombing, which leveled the station and killed and wounded scores of people, is the latest in a series of deadly terror attacks in the capital.

The suicide bomber, identified as “a hero of Islamic Emirate, Mullah Jabbar Logari” by the Taliban in a statement released on the terror group’s official website, Voice of Jihad, drove “an explosive-laden truck” into a police headquarters in Kabul’s Police District 6 this morning. The blast was massive (see video above, which was posted on Twitter by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid).

At least 18 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded, “including women and children,” and several homes were damaged, TOLONews reported. Ever sensitive to being accused of causing civilian casualties, the Taliban claimed that the “attack took place at a site where civilian movement was not allowed.”

Kabul has been rocked by a series of suicide attacks and roadside bombings over the past month. Some of these attacks have gone unclaimed, such as yesterday’s IED blast that killed five people and wounded seven more. A roadside bomb targeted a convoy of the Interior Ministry’s Counter-Narcotics Department.

The largest attack which has gone unclaimed targeted the Kabul headquarters of Amrullah Saleh, a candidate for vice president and the former head of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security. At least 20 people were killed and 50 more were wounded in the suicide assault. Saleh is at the top of Taliban’s hit list, as he is responsible for killing and capturing tens of thousands of Taliban leaders, commanders, and fighters during his time as NDS chief from 2004 to 2010.

The Taliban likely is distancing itself from some of these attacks as civilians have been caught in the crossfire. While it is possible the Islamic State executed these attacks, it becomes more unlikely over time as the smaller terror group is quick to claim its operations because it is eager to advertise its presence.

The Taliban claims it takes care to protect civilian lives, but it has no qualms about carrying out attacks in areas where civilians will be present. Its latest statement promising to attack Afghanistan’s upcoming presidential election makes that clear. Election sites, the Taliban said, are fair game and will be targeted.

“As campaigns for these theatrical elections are already in full swing and rallies are being organized, the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate will be becoming their barrier,” the Taliban said in an official statement that was released on Aug. 6.

“To prevent losses, God forbid, from being incurred by our fellow compatriots, they must stay away from gatherings and rallies that could become potential targets,” it concluded.

Despite the Taliban’s continued use of suicide bombers and other terror tactics to target the Afghan government and civilians – and its enduring relationship with al Qaeda and other terror groups – Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, continues to state that the Taliban can be an “effective counterterrorism partner,” and hopes to strike a deal with the group to extricate US forces from Afghanistan.