Earlier this week, two people were killed and seven were wounded when a bus carrying workers from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education was hit by a roadside bomb in the Afghan capital of Kabul. Hours later, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed at least 12 army recruits on a bus in eastern Afghanistan.
38 other people were wounded after the motorcycle attack, all of whom remain in critical condition. “It was a crowded area, and it is hard to say now how many of them [casualties] were from the defense ministry,” said Defense Ministry spokesperson Dawlat Waziri. The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the strike targeting the military recruits, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack on the Ministry of Education. Local authorities, however, strongly suspect that that attack was committed by extremists associated with the Taliban.
The bus conductor, Rahim Gul, said the force from the blast ejected him from his vehicle. “We picked up the Education Ministry staff, and we were driving on the road when there was an explosion. It was very powerful and there me out of the car window. A few minutes later, I found myself in a wheat field, and then I rushed to the site of the attack and helped some injured people, and they were taken to a hospital,” he said.
Both provincial officials and the Education Ministry released statements condemning the violence. “The education ministry asks security forces to bring perpetrators to justice as soon as possible,” Afghanistan’s Education Ministry said in a statement. Regrettably, Rafiq Sherzad of Reuters reports that the number of casualties from both attacks is expected to rise.
The Daily Star, a website that focuses on Middle Eastern and Lebanese news, reports that government workers and members of security forces are often targeted by insurgent groups, namely the Taliban. Violent extremists hope that attacks will destabilize the American-backed government in Kabul.
The Taliban’s attacks have stepped up in frequency and bloodshed since most foreign troops withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Last week, six people were killed by a suicide bomber on a motorcycle in a district north of Kabul, and in February a Taliban suicide bomber killed 14 people at a clinic in the same district.
Additionally, two explosions were reported in Kabul on Saturday. These attacks immediately followed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s unannounced visit to Afghanistan. The secretary wanted to meet with Afghani officials to discuss the country’s security situation, which many analysts report is weakening.
In the summer of 2014, the Taliban retook several strategic areas surrounding Kabul in its strongest show of force in a decade. The military gains inflicted heavy casualties and cast doubt on the Americans’ decision to withdraw combat troops. In its advance, the Taliban found success beyond their traditional strongholds, which are located in the country’s south and along the Pakistani border. The militants, however, were pushed back by an intense series of American airstrikes. Most of the territory has been reclaimed by the Afghani military.