Two Taliban bombs on Darul Aman Road, Kabul killed more than 30 people and wounded some 70 others late afternoon yesterday. Two explosions hit the major boulevard outside the Afghan Parliament offices, just north of the American University of Afghanistan.
According to Saleem Rasouli, a senior public health official who spoke to Reuters, 33 people had been killed and more than 70 wounded in the attack. Most of the victims in the minibus targeted were parliamentary staff members.
All university personnel are reported safe and accounted for as at the time of the university’s news report.
The blasts came from two separate bombs – one from a suicide bomber followed almost immediately by a car bomber, which exploded when security forces came to help the victims, according to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
“We planned this attack for quite some time and the plan was target some senior officers of the intelligence agency. We sent one suicide bomber to target a mini bus that was carrying these officers,” he said. “We did exactly what we planned.”
This incident happened on the same day as separate incidents in the Kandahar and Helmand region where at least 14 people were killed and others injured.
Series of Attacks and Consequences
The Taliban attack on the Afghan capital follows two recent incidents where the American University faculty and students were abducted and attacked respectively. Last August, two lecturers were abducted at gunpoint. Slightly more than two weeks later, two gunmen stormed the campus with guns and explosives, and killed 12 civilians and injured more than 50 others, mostly students.
The American University is Afghanistan’s only private, not-for-profit, non-partisan and co-educational university. Opened in 2006 with 50 students, it now enrolls more than 1,700 full- and part-time students. The elite institution, which partners with universities such as Stanford University and Georgetown University, is regarded as a symbol of cooperation between Afghanistan and the United States.
While the campus is highly guarded and has high walls, there are concerns that these attacks will deter foreign faculty members from joining and staying at the university. Campuses across the Afghan capital, including the University of Kabul and other smaller private and public universities, are also feeling increasingly vulnerable. These attacks in close proximity to the campus are only a part of the generally insecure situation in Kabul.
As a city with high concentration of high-profile institutions, Kabul City regularly witnesses violence, in the form of mainly ’high-profile attacks’, ’complex attacks’ or ’suicide attacks’, according to a November 2016 security report by the European Asylum Support Office.
The gunmen attack at the university last August was also strongly condemned by the United Nations. “An attack deliberately targeting an educational facility, during evening classes for university students, is an atrocity and those responsible must be held accountable,” Pernille Kardel, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Acting Head of the UN Assistance Mission there, known as UNAMA, said in a press statement.
“The country’s youth are a source of pride and bring real hope for a better future,” Ms. Kardel said. She is hopeful that “violence will not discourage their desire for continued learning and attaining the knowledge and skills critical to Afghanistan’s prosperity.”