February 9, 2016
ISLAMABAD—The United States has warned its citizens in Afghanistan that insurgents are planning to attack foreign guest houses in the capital city of Kabul as of early this month.
A U.S. Embassy statement issued early Tuesday says the warning is based on reports it has received, adding there is no further information regarding the timing, target, location, or method of any planned attack.
“Unidentified insurgents are planning to attack unidentified foreign guest houses in Kabul City, possibly near the Qala-e Fatullah neighborhood. The attack could also occur near Ansari or Haji Yaqub roundabouts in Kabul City,” it said.
The embassy again warned against travel to Afghanistan, saying the security situation in the country is “extremely unstable and the threat to all U.S. citizens in Afghanistan remains critical.”
Taliban suicide bombers and heavily armed fighters in recent months have staged deadly attacks against local and foreign targets in Kabul, including guesthouses.
Meanwhile, hundreds of U.S. troops were headed for the restive southern Helmand province to support the Afghan Army’s 215th corps, which has struggled for months to reverse Taliban territorial gains in the poppy-growing region.
“This was a planned deployment of additional personnel to both bolster force protection for the current staff of advisors and to provide additional advisors to help with ongoing efforts to re-man, re-equip, and re-train the 215th Corps,” said U.S. Army spokesman Col. Michael Lawhorn.
However, the U.S. military’s mission in Afghanistan “remains the same: to train, advise, and assist our Afghan counterparts, and not to participate in combat operations,” said Lawhorn.
The battlefield setbacks have prompted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to replace more than 90 general officers in a major shakeup in the army corps.
The NATO-led coalition comprised mostly of U.S. troops ended its combat mission at the end of 2014, encouraging the Taliban to capture territory and inflict heavy losses on Afghan security forces for the first time since it was ousted from power nearly 15 years ago.
The insurgents have also captured areas in northern and northeastern Afghanistan but their advances in Helmand have been particularly significant. The Taliban is said to be in control of 11 out of 14 districts in the largest Afghan province, which borders Pakistan and has been a traditional Taliban heartland.