Taliban attack on Kabul police headquarters kills 20

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  Feb. 1, 2016 at 12:41 PM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- The Taliban in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing Monday that killed at least 20 people at Kabul's National Civil Order Police headquarters.

Most victims were police officers, BBC News reported. At least 25 people were injured in the explosion at the entrance of the National Civil Order Police, which conducts counterinsurgency operations against the Taliban.

Reports indicate the bomber detonated while he was in line to get into the police station.

The Taliban stepped up attacks as the militant Islamist group is facing a leadership crisis escalated by the confirmation of the death of the Taliban's former leader, Mullah Omar, last year. Key figures in the Taliban are also divided on whether they should seek peace with the Afghan government and how they should go about possibly ending the nearly 15-year war.

The Taliban has inflicted heavy casualties on Afghan security forces after NATO forces handed the combat mission to local police and military units in late 2014.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg last month said foreign ministers agreed to keep 12,000 troops in Afghanistan through 2016 to assist local security forces.

In January during unofficial talks in Qatar between Taliban representatives and Afghan government mediators, the Taliban made a list of demands that they said must be met before they will consider joining formal peace talks aimed at ending the conflict in Afghanistan.

Fred Lambert contributed to this report.

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