Insurgents increasingly employing complex attacks in Afghanistan

Thursday's strike on an Afghan ministry was carried out by a team using multiple attack methods.

A suicide attack occurred Thursday at the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Omar Sobhani/Reuters
A woman reached for a colleague at the Ministry of Information and Culture in Kabul, Afghanistan, where a suicide attack occurred.
Omar Sobhani/Reuters
Afghan policemen run to secure the area following a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Thursday.

A suicide bomber detonated explosives inside a government ministry Thursday, killing at least five and injuring dozens. The attack is the latest in a series this year showing insurgents' ability to penetrate the capital using complicated and daring methods.

"Security in the capital is decreasing day by day," says Ajmal Karimi, analyst with the Center for Peace and Conflict studies, a Kabul-based think tank.

He says that Thursday's attack, which involved multiple insurgents and included small-arms fire, is an example of the sophisticated methods increasingly used.

"With these types of attacks the insurgents are able to make people feel that they cannot trust the government to keep them safe even in the capital," he says.

At least three insurgents entered the Ministry of Information and Culture, located in a busy section of Kabul, Thursday morning. Witnesses say a gunfight broke out between security officials and the guerrillas, followed by a massive blast that destroyed much of the ministry's first floor. According to some reports, two insurgents escaped the scene.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying they were targeting foreign advisers. Insurgents may also have hit the ministry because it was one of the least secure.

Kabul is heavily guarded, with thousands of police patrolling, many main arteries closed to traffic, and blast walls surrounding most government buildings. Yet insurgents have staged numerous high-profile attacks.

"In these types of attacks, the insurgents may send one suicide bomber toward the target while another fighter distracts security forces with gunfire," says Mr. Karimi.

While the attack involved a small team, many complex attacks involve greater numbers of fighters and a more diverse combination of attack methods. According to an American intelligence official with the international forces, this year has seen a 6 to 12 percent increase in assaults involving more than 20 insurgents and multiple attack methods

The blast comes amid talk of negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. "Our enemies are trying to undermine recent efforts by the government for a peaceful solution to end the violence," President Hamid Karzai said in a statement.

Danna Harman contributed to this report from Kabul.

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