U.S. Embassy in Kabul Closes After Taliban Attacks

AP Photo
The Associated Press

Following a Taliban suicide-bomb attack on the U.S. military base at Bagram Air Field that killed four people and wounded 16 others, and a truck-bomb attack on the German consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif that killed 7 and wounded over 100, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul has announced that it will close temporarily.

The statement on Sunday from the U.S. State Department cited both of those attacks, and announced the suspension of routine services as a “temporary precautionary measure.”

“The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens of the serious threat of violence, kidnapping, and hostage taking in Afghanistan,” the statement continued:

Additional, the U.S. Embassy continues to receive reports of militants planning unspecified attacks in Kabul City and elsewhere in Afghanistan against locations and individuals with potential American connections, including Afghan and U.S. government facilities, foreign embassies, foreign guest houses, restaurants, hotels, airports, civilian institutes, and educational centers. The U.S. Embassy takes these threats seriously and advises U.S. citizens to take appropriate security precautions and to avoid predictable travel patterns within Afghanistan.

The Wall Street Journal described the Bagram attack as particularly worrisome, because it “wasn’t immediately clear how the insurgent succeeded in bypassing multiple layers of security at Bagram Air Field, one of the U.S. military’s largest and most heavily guarded bases in Afghanistan.”

The suicide bomber infiltrated Bagram dressed as a day laborer, and was able to get close to the dining facility before detonating his bomb at around 5:30 A.M. local time on Saturday. It was the first time a suicide bomber was able to breach the outer layers of security at the base.

NBC News reports the attack occurred as “people were gathering for a post-Veterans Day fun run.” A senior U.S. military official told NBC the bomber was “looking for an opportunity to do the most damage.”

“The attack brought the number of Americans killed in Afghanistan over the past month to eight, including five service members. In October, an Afghan soldier killed a U.S. sergeant and a U.S. civilian at a base in Kabul. Last week, two U.S. special forces soldiers were killed and two were wounded when they were ambushed during a raid on local Taliban leaders in northern Kunduz province,” the Journal added.

Fox News quotes Defense Secretary Ashton Carter saying the dead included two U.S. service members and two U.S. contractors, while the wounded included 16 U.S. service members and one Polish soldier.

“I want to express my sincere condolences to the families of the fallen, and I want to reassure the loved ones of those injured that they are getting the best possible care,” said Carter.

“To the family and friends of those who lost their lives today, we share your loss and our thoughts are with you. We offer you our deepest condolences. For the family and friends of those wounded in today’s attack, let me assure you they are receiving the best care possible, and we will keep them in our thoughts today,” said U.S. Army General John W. Nicholson.

The Taliban promptly claimed responsibility for the attack, with a spokesman saying it had been planned for four months.

The Wall Street Journal said the Bagram attack “reflected the Taliban’s ability to strike at the heart of the U.S.-led coalition as it gains ground against Afghan army and police forces around the country,” while Fox News notes the Taliban have “made gains in recent months,” quoting a top U.S. commander’s estimate that the insurgents now control or contest nearly a quarter of the country.