Kabul: A suicide bomber killed dozens of cadets at a Kabul police academy and insurgents struck an area near a U.S. special forces base on Friday in a wave of attacks in the Afghan capital that began with a huge early morning truck bomb explosion.
The attacks came just over a week after the Taliban announced a new leader and appeared to dash any hope of a swift return to peace talks between the insurgent movement and the government of President Ashraf Ghani.
A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on the police academy, in which security sources said at least 50 or 60 people had been killed or wounded.
"The bomber was wearing a police uniform and detonated his explosives among students who had just returned from a break," a police official said.
Shortly afterwards, two explosions hit an area north of Kabul airport close to a U.S. special forces base and insurgent fighters followed up with gunfire, with fighting continuing into the early hours of the morning.
Details were still unclear but the explosions took place near several potential targets, including a counternarcotics police camp near a base for U.S. security contractors and a U.S. special forces base known as Camp Integrity.
"Anti-government elements launched a complex attack against Camp Integrity, initiated with a vehicle-borne bomb and followed by small arms fire and further explosions," one Western security source said.
Shortly after the explosions, military jets roared over the center of Kabul and helicopters flew overhead as the fighting continued.
The evening attacks came less than 24 hours after a huge truck bomb exploded near an army compound in a residential area of Kabul, killing at least 15 people and wounding 248.
Unlike the attack on the police station, the Taliban did not claim responsibility for the truck bombing, which caused mainly civilian casualties, killing and wounding people in their sleep and wrecking shops and homes.
"Last night's attack was a cowardly terrorist attack against civilians," presidential spokesman Sayed Zafar Hashemi told reporters.