Terrorism

Taliban carry out another terrorist attack during Ramadan, killing 5 in Gardez

AFP and Staff

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Afghan police officers gather at the site of a Taliban attack on police headquarters in Gardez, Paktia Province, June 18. At least five policemen were killed in the Taliban suicide bombing and gun attack. [Farid Zahir/AFP]

KABUL -- Taliban militants stormed a regional police headquarters in Gardez, Paktia Province, Sunday (June 18), killing five officers and injuring 22 people in an assault launched by a suicide bomber.

Of the seven attackers involved, one blew himself up in a car to enable the others to storm the building, the office of the Paktia provincial governor said in a statement announcing the end of the raid.

Special forces killed four of the insurgents, but two held out for several hours, it said, adding that nine police and 13 civilians were wounded.

The base in the centre of Gardez city houses both regular police officers and police special forces.

"One [attacker] blew up his vehicle at the entrance of the headquarters, opening the way for... others who opened fire on the security forces," regional police commander Asadullah Shirzad told AFP.

The head of the police hospital, Dr. Shir Mohammad, confirmed the five fatalities.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility.

Calls to stop the violence

Since launching their spring offensive in late April, the Taliban have been mounting lethal assaults on army and police positions, killing several dozen security personnel in recent weeks -- and inflicting many civilian casualties.

Afghans have repeatedly called on the Taliban and "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) militants to cease attacks, especially during Ramadan.

"Before Ramadan I thought that the militants might stop their attacks and allow us to fast and pray during this holy month," Noorullah, a 25-year-old university student from Kabul, told Salaam Times.

"Unfortunately, the insurgents' attacks have increased ... and now I believe they do not adhere to any Islamic principles or human rights," he said.

"The public now knows that our security forces will stand in front of a suicide attacker [to protect Afghan lives]," he said. "[We] support them, and they should understand they are in our hearts."

Afghans will continue to support the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) in their fight against terrorism, joining them in the fight if needed, said Kabul resident Mukhtar Ahmad, 35.

"During this holy month, the militants have killed hundreds of innocents, and they should understand the Afghan public will never forgive them," he told Salaam Times.

A string of attacks during Ramadan

Afghans were hopeful that the militants would stop their attacks during Ramadan, but those hopes were quickly dashed, said Kabul-based security analyst Ahmad Bahroz.

In Khost, a Taliban suicide car bomber killed 13 Afghans and wounded six, including children, on May 27 at the start of Ramadan.

Five days later, on May 31, a massive truck bomb ripped through the Kabul's diplomatic quarter, killing at least 150 individuals and injuring hundreds of others.

On June 3, suicide bombers tore through a row of mourners attending a funeral, claiming at least seven lives.

On June 6, a motorcycle bomb exploded near the Grand Mosque in Herat, killing seven.

Last Thursday (June 15), ISIS suicide bombers struck al-Zahra mosque in Kabul, killing one police officer and three civilians and injuring eight -- four police and four civilians. Security forces stopped the bombers from entering the crowded prayer hall, preventing much higher casualties.

"What the militants have done during this Ramadan has made Afghans angrier and increased their hatred of these groups," Bahroz told Salaam Times.

Afghan religious scholar Wahiz Zada Behsodi echoed the condemnation of such attacks.

"None of the militants' activities are according to Islam, and we completely condemn them," he told Salaam Times.

[Najibullah from Kabul contributed to this report.]

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