Five militants targeted a military base in Kabul on Monday, killing 11 and capping a week of violence that has shaken a country ravaged by years of conflict.
More than 130 people have been killed in four attacks over the past nine days, starting with a deadly hotel siege in Kabul which left at least 22 people dead.
The Taliban have claimed two attacks while ISIS says it is behind the others, including Monday’s military base assault, raising the possibility of a deadly competition between the two terrorist groups.
Meanwhile, the fact a military base in the center of Kabul was vulnerable to attack raises questions over the Afghan government’s ability to protect itself.
“This is all about the deterioration of security inside what was supposed to be known as the ‘ring of steel,’ the Afghan capital of Kabul … (ISIS) appears to be in a race for the low ground of extremist brutality with the Taliban,” CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh said.
Monday’s assault started before daybreak when an attacker detonated his suicide vest at the entrance of the military base, near the Marshal Fahim Military Academy in the west of Kabul, Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Ministry of Defense told CNN.
The assault dragged on for five hours during which another suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest. Another two were killed by the Afghan National Army and one was captured, Waziri said.
Eleven Afghan army personnel were killed and 16 were wounded in the attack, he said.
Although ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack through its media arm, the Amaq News Agency, it didn’t provide any evidence to support the claim. The site reported “an immersive attack by the Islamic State fighters targeted the Military Academy in Kabul city.”
The Marshal Fahim National Defense University shares the site with two other military facilities, including a NATO base that houses instructors for the academy, according to spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazawi.
The military complex, which is located in the 5th police district of Kabul, is near the site of a suicide bombing in October 2017.