KABUL (Reuters) - A suicide bomber targeted an Afghan Special Forces base in Kabul on Thursday, killing at least four commandos, officials said, as violence continued to escalate following the collapse of peace talks between the United States and Taliban insurgents.
The bomber blew up an explosives-laden minibus at the entrance to the camp in Chahar Asyab district, killing the four special forces members and wounding another three, the Defence Ministry said in a statement.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, which he said killed more than 200 commandos. The insurgents routinely issue exaggerated casualty claims.
Mujahid said the bomber had been infiltrated into the base well before the attack.
The latest attack underscored expectations of an escalation in violence following U.S. President Donald Trump’s sudden cancellation of the talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing U.S. troops and ending 18 years of war in Afghanistan.
In Washington, Trump’s nominee to be the secretary of the U.S. Army said walking away from the talks was the correct decision.
“I think that it was the right decision to step back from the table and try to look at how do you get to a framework to bring a political end state to the conflict,” Ryan McCarthy told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
McCarthy said that he believed that the United States would continue to need not only a counterterrorism capability, but also the ability to advise and assist Afghan security forces.
“We can’t take our eye of the ball there until a time where there is a much greater maturity in the strength within the Afghan government,” McCarthy added.
Last week, a Taliban suicide blast killed at least 10 civilians and two NATO service members near the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi. Additional reporting by Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Alistair Bell