Kabul | The death toll from a lethal Taliban attack in Kabul has more than doubled to 64, officials said today, the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital in recent years. The brazen assault yesterday in a densely packed Kabul neighbourhood marked the first major Taliban attack in Kabul since the insurgents announced the start of this year’s fighting season last week.
A powerful Taliban truck bomb tore through central Kabul and a fierce firefight broke out, sending clouds of smoke billowing into the sky and rattling windows several kilometres away. It is with regret that I announce that 64 people were killed and 347 others wounded in yesterday’s Kabul attack.
Most of them are civilians, ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told reporters. The ministry had earlier put the death toll at 30. Tuesday’s attack was one of the deadliest in Kabul for years. In December 2011, more than 50 people were killed in a suicide attack during the Shiite holy day of Ashura.
The Taliban on Tuesday last week announced the start of their spring offensive, even as the government tries to bring them back to the negotiating table to end the drawn-out conflict. The insurgents warned they would employ large-scale attacks on enemy positions across the country during the offensive dubbed Operation Omari in honour of the movement’s late founder Mullah Omar, whose death was announced last year.
The Taliban’s resurgence has raised serious questions about the ability of Afghan forces to hold their own and prompted calls for the US to reconsider its troop withdrawal schedule, already delayed once by President Barack Obama.