Afghan President Ashraf Ghani demanded that Pakistan crack down on the Taliban after a car bomb explosion near Kabul airport claimed by the Islamist militants killed five people yesterday, the latest in a series of suicide attacks to rock the capital.
The attacks have followed a change of leadership in the Taliban and have dashed any hopes of an immediate resumption of peace talks with the government.
They suggest new Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour intends to send a message that there will be no let up in the insurgency.
The attacks, which have killed dozens of civilians and wounded hundreds more, have also stoked tensions with neighbouring Pakistan, the base of many leaders of the hardline movement, according to many in Afghanistan.
Ghani, who has made improving relations with Pakistan a priority on the grounds it may push the Taliban into peace talks, said that Islamabad had to tackle the bomb-making factories and suicide training camps being run on its side of the border.
“We hoped for peace, but war is declared against us from Pakistani territory; this in fact puts into a display a clear hostility against a neighbouring country,” he said.
Afghan officials said five people were killed and 16 wounded in yesterday’s suicide attack in a crowded area outside an airport checkpoint. A woman and a child were among the injured.
The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying it was targeting “foreign forces”. It denied any Afghan civilians had been killed in the attack.A security official at the scene said the attack appeared to have been aimed at two armoured cars, although it was not clear who was in the vehicles. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the occupants of the two targeted vehicles were foreigners and had all been killed.
The heavily fortified Afghan capital was already on high alert following attacks last Friday, which killed at least 50 civilians and security forces personnel in what the United Nations said was the worst day of violence since 2009.
Pakistan denies sponsoring the Taliban, but Ghani’s calls reflect the growing pressure he faces at home to stem an insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives so far this year.
“Our relation with Pakistan is based on our national interests, on top of which comes security and safety of our people,” he said. “If our people continue to be killed, relations lose meaning and I hope it will not happen.”
But Ghani did not entirely shut the door on resuming dialogue with the Taliban if it stopped the violence.