A pair of blasts disrupted the afternoon commute in Kabul, killing at least 30 and injuring 80 according to initial reports. The attack is the first major incident in Kabul this year, touching off what many expect to be another difficult year in the country.
According to Tolonews, a suicide bomber detonated himself near the entrance to the parliament compound at around 4 pm Tuesday. That explosion was followed by another — likely a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device — which seemed to target a convoy of vehicles escorting parliamentarians and other government officials home but also caught those responding to the first blast.
The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement, “a mini bus ferrying workers of NDS 5th Directorate was targeted by a martyrdom seeker with an explosives vest in Darul Aman area of the capital city Kabul, followed by another martyrdom seeker detonating a car bomb on the enemy troops that gathered at the first blast site.”
The Taliban statement characterizes those targeted — and all those killed — as “NDS workers.” According to the Taliban’s warped view of reality, 42 “gunmen” were killed or injured in the second blast. An official told the AFP that most of those killed and injured were civilians and parliament employees.
The attack seems to be Kabul’s first major incident this year. Darulaman road has been the venue for Taliban attacks in the past. The route spokes out from the center of Kabul and runs southwest to the old Darul Aman Palace, which sits — a burned-out neoclassical shell — across from the new parliament building completed in 2015.
The American University of Afghanistan is on Darulaman as well and was targeted in late August 2016. Gunmen stormed the university grounds during evening lectures. Two gunmen killed seven students, three police and two security guards and terrorized hundreds of students and university staff present on campus at the time. AUAF has been closed since the siege, but vows to reopen in March.
In October 2016, a suicide bomber detonated what Pajhwok described as an “explosives-laden rickshaw” next to a bus carrying workers from the Ministry of Mines on Darulaman road. Twenty civilians were injured in the explosion, which occurred near a high school and a wedding hall.
While the Taliban paints itself as targeting members of the Afghan intelligence services and military, UN data indicates that civilian casualties have been on the rise as the war between the Afghan government and insurgent groups becomes increasingly muddled.