May 4, 2020
ISLAMABAD – Taliban have claimed an attack on an Afghan military and intelligence base in Helmand province Sunday night that killed at least seven and wounded more than a dozen, according to a security source. The attack was confirmed by multiple Afghan officials, including the spokesman for Helmand governor Omar Zawak, albeit with a lower number of casualties. The Afghan ministry of defense said only one person was wounded.
The source who did not wish to be named also said the base in Grishk district was partially damaged in the attack.
District police chief Ismail Khpalwak said a suicide attacker exploded a Mazda mini truck in front of the gate. The base along the Kandahar-Herat highway is approximately 120 km north of the provincial capital Lashkargah which houses forces responsible for keeping the highway secure.
The Taliban statement claiming the attack said it was done in retaliation for repeated violations of the deal made between the United States and Taliban in February in Doha, as well as attacks on civilians living in areas under Taliban control.
While this is the first time in weeks that Taliban have directly claimed an attack, several reports suggest Taliban violence increased in March and April of this year.
A Reuters story claims Taliban mounted 4500 attacks since the signing of the deal on February 29.
“[A]ttacks by the hardline Islamist group [were] up by more than 70 percent between March 1 and April 15 compared with the same period a year ago,” Reuters said.
The latest United Nations report on civilian casualties said anti-government forces killed 55 percent of all the civilians who died in the first quarter of 2020 in Afghanistan. The report blamed Taliban for 39 percent of those killings.
The attack in Helmand, though the deadliest, was one of several in various parts of Afghanistan in the last 24 hours.
In Paktika province, a grenade attack on a mosque in Khairkot district along the border with Pakistan left 20 worshippers wounded. Shah Mohammad Aryan, a spokesman for the Paktika police headquarters told VOA that all the wounded have been shifted to a hospital and are out of danger.
In a third attack north of the capital Kabul Monday morning, four employees of the state owned power company were wounded in a bomb explosion on their way back to the capital after repairing a pylon destroyed by gunmen Sunday night.
A statement by the Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) said two out of the four were in critical condition.
This was the second attack on an electricity pylon north of Kabul in the last two weeks. In the first attack, the pylon destroyed was used for transferring electricity imported from Central Asia. Its destruction caused two days of power outages in Kabul and a few other provinces.
Kabul police have arrested a group of criminals that it says is led by the brother of a Taliban group commander in connection with these attacks on the electricity infrastructure.
In yet another attack in Kandahar city Monday morning, a policewoman was killed.. Jamal Barakzai, a spokesman for Kandahar police, told VOA she was killed in the center of the city. In the past two months, five policewomen have been killed in various attacks in Kandahar. Around 100 policewomen are on duty in Kandahar province.
No group has so far taken responsibility for targeting female police officers. Kandahar is an extremely conservative province and few women are seen on the streets.