At least 28 people are dead and hundreds are wounded after a suicide bomb and gun assault on a government security building in Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday morning.
The bombing took place during rush hour in the city's central district, and targeted a security team that protects government VIPs, according to CNN. However, most of the victims were civilians—including women and children, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said.
Reuters notes: "Tuesday's blast came days after a United Nations report said urban warfare had caused a spike in the number of deaths and injuries among women and children in Afghanistan this year."
It also comes a week after the Taliban declared the start of a "spring offensive," news outlets said.
The Guardian quoted Mohammad Aref, a 20-year-old shop owner, who described seeing all his windows break in the explosion, and at least 50 wounded people being carried away. "The clothes of many of them were soaked in blood," he said.
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Both Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and NATO commander Gen. John W. Nicholson condemned the attack, saying it was a sign of Taliban weakness.
"Today's attack shows the insurgents are unable to meet Afghan forces on the battlefield and must resort to these terrorist attacks," Nicholson said.
But journalist Bilal Sarwary, reporting from Kabul for France 24, said the scale and sophistication of the attack in one of Kabul's most heavily secured neighborhood raises serious security questions.
"President Ghani said the Taliban can't face the Afghan security forces in face-to-face battles, that's why they are conducting attacks like this," he said. "But the president's word will do little to restore the confidence of the Afghan people in what is clearly a huge security and intelligence failure once more."
The Taliban claimed over the weekend that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was the intended target of rocket strikes in Afghanistan's capital on Saturday.
Despite the latest attack and the apparent reemerging strength of the Taliban, former diplomat Peter Van Buren on Tuesday noted in an op-ed that the war in Afghanistan—officially the longest in U.S. history—continues to go largely unmentioned in this year's presidential campaign.