Taliban attacks kill 13 Afghans
Raids include bus ambush in capital
KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban fighters struck at Afghan security forces yesterday, storming an army recruiting center in the north that sparked a daylong gun battle and ambushing a bus carrying army officers in the capital — the first major attack in Kabul since May.
At least 13 Afghan security forces were killed in the two attacks, with the firefight at the recruiting center in the northern province of Kunduz ending only after the last militant detonated his suicide vest, police officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for both operations.
The violence in Kunduz, where security has deteriorated during the past two years, came a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited her country’s troops in the province.
“The purpose of her trip was to give morale to her soldiers. But today the successful attack is shaking the hearts of the occupation soldiers,’’ Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.
Most fighting in Afghanistan has been concentrated in the south. An internal review of President Obama’s year-old war strategy unveiled Thursday noted progress against Taliban momentum, particularly in southern areas that saw a surge of international troop levels. But the Taliban have been showing they can strike outside those areas.
NATO said an international service member died in a bomb attack in the south yesterday, bringing the number of foreign troops killed in Afghanistan this year to 690, according to an Associated Press count. Previously, the worst year of war was 2009, with 502 foreign troops killed.
In yesterday’s attack in Kabul, two insurgents strapped with explosives ambushed a bus carrying Afghan army officers, killing five and wounding nine, said Defense Ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi.
The two attackers first opened fire on the bus before one of them detonated his explosives near the vehicle. Soldiers shot the second man dead, Azimi said.
The attack in Kunduz began at daybreak, when four militants stormed the recruitment center. At least one of the attackers survived and fighting broke out inside the compound. The battle raged into the early evening, Afghan authorities said.