Afghans observed a day of mourning for 103 people killed by an ambulance packed with explosives when attackers struck again, this time targeting a military base in the capital Kabul.
The attacks underline the difficulties the Trump administration faces as it reiterates Washington’s security commitment in Afghanistan.
In just one month, militants have targeted the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, the offices of British aid agency Save the Children in Jalalabad, and a Shia cultural center in Kabul.
A year ago President Donald Trump spoke with US troops in Afghanistan — hours after his inauguration. “I’m with you all the way … we’re going to do it together,” he told them. It was a sentiment he repeated in condemning Saturday’s attack. Gen. Joseph Votel — who leads US Central Command and was in Kabul when the bombing occurred — insisted “it does not impact our commitment to Afghanistan” and that victory is “absolutely” possible.
But in the past year, the Taliban has become stronger in many Afghan provinces. It now controls or contests control of at least 40% of the country, according to an official US assessment. The US relationship with Pakistan, seen by most as an essential player in Afghanistan, has deteriorated sharply. The central government in Kabul is weak and divided. It’s embroiled in a struggle with a powerful provincial governor, Atta Muhammad Noor, who was fired but has refused to step down. Corruption remains endemic, especially within the national police.