KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban claimed duty on Wednesday for an assault on the house of a prime navy official in Kabul that killed eight individuals, highlighting the insurgents’ capacity to strike within the coronary heart of the Afghan capital as they proceed their sweeping navy marketing campaign.
The raid started round 8 p.m. on Tuesday with a automotive bomb that detonated exterior the house of Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, the appearing protection minister. For a number of hours afterward, different blasts and sporadic gunfire may very well be heard within the heart of town after gunmen stormed the constructing and safety forces fought to rescue the roughly 80 individuals trapped inside.
The advanced assault — the most important the Taliban have carried out within the metropolis in almost a yr — penetrated a neighborhood that’s house to many high-ranking Afghan officers and near Kabul’s closely fortified inexperienced zone. It comes because the insurgents push the entrance strains of their navy marketing campaign from rural areas deep into provincial capitals within the south and west of Afghanistan.
A Taliban spokesman described the raid in Kabul as “the start of retaliatory assaults,” suggesting that the insurgents deliberate to focus on Afghan navy officers and the small contingent of overseas troops that stay within the nation to guard diplomats and Kabul’s worldwide airport after the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
The Taliban “will now not stay detached” to these teams and “will stand in opposition to them with full drive,” mentioned the spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid.
Minutes earlier than the preliminary explosion on Tuesday, Mohammad Azim Mohsini, a member of Parliament who’s Mr. Mohammadi’s neighbor, left his house the place dozens of individuals had gathered earlier within the evening for a prayer ceremony to mourn the dying of his mom. After the blast, one attacker entered his home, killing 4 individuals, whereas different assailants opened hearth from exterior, he mentioned.
“Quite a few our civilian neighbors — together with ladies, kids and males — had been additionally killed and wounded,” Mr. Mohsini mentioned.
Two cops in addition to an worker with the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation and his youngster had been among the many eight individuals killed within the raid, officers mentioned. The protection minister survived the assault, however a few of his safety guards had been among the many 20 individuals wounded, he mentioned in a video message posted to Twitter.
“I guarantee all of you that such incidents gained’t have the slightest impression on our morale or decision to defend you and my homeland,” he mentioned, addressing the Afghan public.
Nonetheless, that the Taliban might assault the house of a prime navy official in the midst of Kabul despatched an alarming message to the nation’s navy leaders, whose forces have been battered since worldwide troops started withdrawing in Could and the Taliban began a serious navy offensive.
In a severe escalation of its marketing campaign, the group has laid siege in latest weeks to three provincial capitals — Herat within the west and Lashkar Gah and Kandahar within the south — after sweeping by means of a lot of the nation’s rural areas. The insurgents now management greater than half of the nation’s 400-odd districts, according to some assessments.
Because the assault unfolded on Tuesday, hundreds of Afghans poured onto the streets of Kabul, chanting “Allahu akbar,” or “God is nice,” to point out assist for Afghan safety forces. As others joined the chanting from rooftops and home windows, the booming sound of their voices echoed throughout town.
The day earlier than in Herat, the capital of the province of the identical identify, residents additionally marched by means of the streets, shouting the phrase in a present of defiance in opposition to the Taliban as they besieged town.
However in an indication of the battle to return because the Taliban advance on fashionable city areas, Mr. Mujahid on Wednesday known as the protesters “American slaves and seculars.”
Anybody who sides with Afghan forces, he added, “might be reckoned with for God’s sake.”
Najim Rahim, Sharif Hassan and Fatima Faizi contributed reporting.