After two separate attacks were carried out on mosques, one of which was claimed by the Daesh terrorist group, the death toll in war-torn Afghanistan has hit more than 200 in just a week.
The spate of deadly attacks underscores deteriorating security across Afghanistan as the resurgent Taliban step up their attacks on security installations with devastating effect and Daesh continue to target Shiite mosques.
The death toll from Friday's suicide attacks on two different mosques in Afghanistan increased to 84, officials said Saturday. Daiul Haq Abid, a spokesman for the Ministry of Haj and Religious Affairs, said that 54 people died in an attack on the Imam Zaman Mosque.
Meanwhile, Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish confirmed that the attack at a Shiite mosque in capital Kabul was a suicide attack and the Daesh terror group claimed responsibility in a statement posted on its Amaq website.
The number of casualties from another suicide attack on a Sunni mosque in the central Ghor province also went up to 30, Afghan officials said. The attack in Ghor targeted a pro-government commander, Fazal Ahmad, said Abdul Hai Khatibi, spokesman for the provincial governor.
The deadliest attack was on a police compound in the city of Gardez, where Taliban militants detonated three explosive-packed vehicles including a Humvee. At least 60 people were killed in the blasts and ensuing battle, officials said.
The militants also attacked a police headquarters in Ghazni twice, and detonated a suicide bomb on Afghan police trainees in Kabul that killed 15.
Attacking security targets kills three birds with one stone: it allows the Taliban to deflect criticism over civilian casualties, devastate Afghan forces, and steal equipment.
Last week's attacks are the Taliban's response, a spokesman told reporters, calling it "a clear message... The enemy who thought they had scared us with the new Trump strategy has now been given a lesson."
The attacks also came after talks between Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China at the start of the week seeking ways to end the Taliban's 16-year insurgency.
"I think the Taliban wanted to send a very strong message that it prefers to fight rather than talk and that it has the ability to fight very well," said analyst Michael Kugelman, of the Wilson Center in Washington.
In August, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that his forces would stay in Afghanistan indefinitely, increasing attacks on insurgents and deploying more troops. Following the announcement the U.S. has dramatically ramped up airstrikes, with more bombs and missiles dropped in September than in any month since October 2010.
Compiled from wires