Militants attacked an army unit near Afghanistan’s main military university early Monday, killing at least 11 Afghan soldiers and injuring 16 others in what has been an intense period of violence in Kabul, the capital.
Gen. Dawlat Waziri, an agent for the Ministry of Defense, said five militants were involved in the attack on a unit of the army’s 111th Capital Division, which is based next to the university.
“I don’t know how they entered, but two of them blew themselves up after entering, the third and fourth were gunned down by security forces, and a fifth attacker was arrested,” General Waziri said.
The Islamic State’s local affiliate in Afghanistan claimed authority in a message distributed by the group’s Amaq news agency.
As the group’s foothold in eastern Afghanistan has appeared under sustained military pressure, it has increasingly claimed responsibility for urban attacks. But in those urban attacks, Afghan and Western officials see an overlap between the Islamic State and the Haqqani network, a brutal arm of the Taliban long behind complex urban operations.
“These types of attacks are ever carried out by the Haqqani network — I think this attack is also carried out by Haqqani, but ISIS is claiming credit,” General Waziri said. “For us there is no difference between Taliban, Haqqani and ISIS — all of them are terrorist groups.”
The violence arrived two days after the Taliban drove an ambulance full of explosives onto a busy Kabul street, killing at least 103 people and injuring more than 200. Last week, they attacked the Intercontinental Hotel, leading to 15 hours of fighting that left at least 22 people dead.
After Monday’s attack, ambulances rushed from the scene carrying casualties to hospitals, and a road leading to the university was closed.
As has become routine after such attacks, parents and other relatives gathered outside a security cordon to try to get news of their loved ones.
“My son is a student here — when I heard about the news at 7 a.m., I arrived from Parwan Province,” said Abdul Majid Nayel, 40, whose son, Abdul Salim, is studying to be an officer. “They told us he is fine, but I have not talked to him. I will wait here until I know my son is fine.”
Sayid Muhammad Khalid, 37, who lives close to the military university, said the attack started just after 5 a.m.
“I first head an explosion, and then heavy gunfire started,” Mr. Khalid said. “I counted six or seven explosions.”
Ahmad Jalal, 25, said from the rooftop of his house that he could see some 20 bodies lying on the ground.
“What is going on in this country? We witness an attack every day. If you want to kill us every day, you might as well kill us all at once,” Mr. Jalal said. “I ask the government leaders to resign. You cannot provide security in the capital, so how can you secure the provinces?”