A suicide bomber in Afghanistan struck the heavily fortified airport in the nation’s capital today, killing at least two people and wounding six, the latest in a series of attacks since the country held presidential elections on Aug. 20. The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attack echoed other recent Taliban attacks, showcasing both the lapses in Afghanistan’s security apparatus and the Taliban’s growing capacity to hit high-value targets. Last week, the Taliban assassinated the country’s deputy chief of intelligence, despite that official’s heavy security detail.
One eyewitness described a four-wheel drive vehicle exploding near a foreign military convoy.
Nato-led forces fighting the Taliban have a base at the airport, which is used by civilian and military aircraft.
The BBC's Chris Morris in Kabul says there are unconfirmed reports that members of Nato's International Security Assistance Force were among the casualties.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid says the attack was against a NATO convoy and that three Landcruisers were destroyed. NATO forces say they do not yet have details on the incident...
The rocket was fired from the outskirts of the city, landing on the Spin Kalay neighbourhood, a densely populated residential area in the capital's western suburbs, he said.
Western diplomats resident in Kabul have said that rocket attacks are an almost nightly occurrence though rarely claim lives. They aim to intimidate the population and make them aware of the insurgent presence.
As Afghanistan struggles to complete an already controversial vote process, the violence has caused rifts in the United States as to what course the Obama administration should take, as The Christian Science Monitor recently reported:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates responded to growing concerns about the US mission in Afghanistan by making one of his most forceful arguments for why Americans must stay.
It was terrorists enjoying safe haven in Afghanistan who struck at the US on 9/11 – the first significant attack on the continental US since the War of 1812, Mr. Gates pointed out to reporters at the Pentagon Thursday. The US is not in Afghanistan to do nation-building, he added, but to help build Afghan government's capacity to protect itself from Al Qaeda and other groups – which, in turn, is in the US' best interests.
"I absolutely do not think it is time to get out of Afghanistan," Gates said.
Polls show that the American public has its doubts. Some 57 percent of respondents to a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll say they oppose the war.