Three suicide bombers launched the attack then they exploded their devices outside the main entrance of the police HQ in Afghanistan’s capital. Two other militants armed with automatic rifles and grenades then stormed the building, taking control of it from the police. Although the traffic police HQ may seem like a strange target for such a well planned attack, it is located in a key strategic area close to other police buildings and the country’s parliament. This could mean that the attackers had plans to use the building as the launchpad for a larger attack, or it could simply mean that they wanted to send a symbolic message, proving that they can strike to the heart of the government’s power-base in Kabul.
Afghan security forces rushed to the scene of today’s attack, and laid siege to the building with machine guns and rockets. For eight hours the two groups fought it out, until the two gunmen were eventually killed. In total five traffic police officers were killed in the initial assault, as well as all five of the attackers.
This is the second recent attack on a government building in Afghanistan’s capital, after militants attacked a building belonging to the country’s intelligence services on Wednesday 16th January:
Brigadier General Gunter Katz, spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), commented on the shifting tactics of the Taliban: “It’s very clear that more and more the Afghan security sources are getting into the lead, the more they are targeted by the insurgents,” he said.
Another government official, speaking to press on condition of anonymity, suggested that January’s attacks may herald the start of a major Taliban offensive:
“Honestly speaking, this type of attack, at the start of the year, indicates the coming months are going to be tough,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The Taliban will want to display their presence and reach with these kinds of attacks in Kabul.”