WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Monday that it will continue to coordinate with allies in southern Asia to continue its upsurge battle with the Taliban and other terrorist forces, who now appear to be ratcheting up their attacks in Afghanistan.
“The Taliban cares nothing for the people of Afghanistan,” Col. Rob Manning, director of Press Operations, told Pentagon reporters. “We will go forth and do our best work in memory of these people.
“This murderous attack demonstrates they kill indiscriminately,” Manning said.
Kabul was jarred again Monday morning after five gunmen attacked an army outpost near one of Afghanistan’s main military academies; 11 soldiers killed and 15 wounded before the attackers were stopped. Terrorists claiming allegiance to ISIS claimed responsibility.
This morning’s attack came on a day that had been declared a holiday to mourn victims of the last bombing.
Monday morning’s attack followed a weekend suicide attack claimed by the Taliban in Kabul; the death toll in that attack has risen to at least 103 people. The assault, carried out by a bomber driving an explosives-laden ambulance, was the worst attack in the Afghan capital since May 31, 2017, in which at least 150 were killed.
Last week a Taliban-claimed attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel in the city left more than 20 dead. On January 24, an attack claimed by ISIS killed at least three people at the office of Save the Children in Jalalabad, about 74 miles east of Kabul.
The strikes seemingly counter claims by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and U.S. allies officials that a new, more aggressive military strategy has succeeded in driving Taliban insurgents back from major provincial centers.
As part of that strategy, last week the first sorties of A-10C Thunderbolt II “Warthog” aircraft struck Taliban militants in Helmand province. That was the first series of strikes by the aircraft since its return to Afghanistan on Jan. 19.
The increase in terrorist attacks prompted President Trump to call for “decisive action” by “all countries” against terrorists in Afghanistan.
“I condemn the despicable car bombing attack in Kabul today that has left scores of innocent civilians dead and hundreds injured,” Trump said in a statement released on Saturday. “This murderous attack renews our resolve and that of our Afghan partners.”
Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command who was in Kabul at the time of the ambulance attack, told reporters that the increasing violence “does not impact our commitment to Afghanistan” and that victory was “absolutely” possible.
This morning’s attack was the second against the academy. In October a suicide attacker rammed a car full of explosives into a bus carrying cadets from the academy, known as the Defense University, killing 15 of them.