A NATO coalition soldier and eight Afghan contractors were killed in an attack on an American military base in Kabul, NATO said Saturday. It was one of three attacks to shock the capital Friday.
The nationality of the soldier in the attack Friday night was not immediately confirmed. CNN and Fox News reported that the servicemember was an American. The New York Times, citing a U.S. military source, reported that nine contractors died in the assault.
Fighting continued into the early morning hours Saturday after the attack on Camp Integrity, an American base, the Times reported. A number of other NATO servicemembers, foreign contracted civilians and others were wounded in the assault, NATO spokesman Col. Brian Tribus told the Associated Press.
The Afghans killed were working for NATO's Resolute Support mission. Camp Integrity is run by U.S. security contractor Academi, which was known as Blackwater before being sold to investors.
The attack and two deadly bombings in Kabul earlier Friday raise questions about the Afghanistan government's efforts to halt militant violence despite President Ashraf Ghani's attempts to reach a peace deal with the Taliban.
The death toll in the three attacks reached at least 50, making it the single bloodiest day for the Afghan capital in recent years, the Wall Street Journal reported. "We strongly condemn the series of insurgent attacks in Kabul," U.S. State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement Saturday.
The attacks "demonstrate again the insurgency's complete disregard for the lives of innocent Afghans. Such actions have no justification," he added. "We again call upon the Taliban, other Afghan militant groups, and anyone supporting them to bring an end to violence in Afghanistan."
The Interior Ministry said 10 security guards were injured and three insurgents were killed by Afghan security forces as they tried to enter the base. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault, which it said involved four attackers, including one who blew up a car at the entrance, AP reported.
The group also said it was behind the suicide bombing at a police academy in the capital earlier in the day that killed at least 20 cadets and wounded 24, AP reported. Other media outlets said at least 26 to 30 cadets were killed. The Taliban said a bomber dressed in police uniform mingled with cadets returning from their weekend break, AP reported.
Earlier Friday, a truck bomb in a residential area of Kabul killed at least 15 people and wounded 240, in one of the most devastating attacks on the capital since the insurgency began in 2001, according to AP. The blast flattened a city block and left a 30-foot crater in the ground. No one has yet claimed responsibility, but authorities also believe the Taliban was behind that attack, which was likely meant to destroy a government target, AP reported.
Sayed Zafar Hashimi, the deputy spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, said the wounded included 47 women and 33 children, the Times reported. Most of those wounds were not serious, but 35 to 40 people were injured badly enough that they will need to remain hospitalized for several days, Hashimi said.
Friday's attacks come a more than a week after the Afghan intelligence service announced that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar had been dead for more than two years. The Taliban named his replacement as Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour.
Omar's death threw already-fragile peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government into flux after a second round of discussions was postponed by the militant group.
Michael Semple of the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice at Queens University Belfast told CNN that Mansour's rise may bode poorly for the peace talks. "He is the one who has presided over the movement during a period of escalation of the violence," Semple said. "Actions speak louder than words."
In a recently released audiotape that purports to be from Mansour, the new leader denies that the group is attempting to work toward peace. "When we hear about different processes including the peace process, they are all the propaganda campaigns by the enemy," the message says.
It continues: "We will continue our jihad and we will fight until we bring an Islamic rule in the country."
Fighting between the Taliban and Afghan forces has caused almost 5,000 civilian casualties this year, according to a report issued Wednesday by the United Nations.
It said civilian casualties were at record highs, with women and children a growing percentage of the victims. Overall, the report found 1,592 deaths and 3,329 injuries. The United Nations' human rights office said insurgents were responsible for 70 percent of civilian casualties, with more than half that number caused by suicide bombings.
The report covered the first six months of 2015 and noted that the thousands of civilian casualties "demonstrate the continued failure of parties to the conflict to protect civilians from harm."