Afghan army halts transport for soldiers after wave of bus bombs


KABUL: Afghanistan’s army has stopped taking soldiers to and from work in the capital, deeming it too dangerous after a string of bomb attacks on buses carrying soldiers killed more than a dozen of them, an official said on Tuesday.

The decision was another sign of deteriorating security and heightened fear in Kabul two weeks before the US-led combat mission ends after 13 years, and most foreign troops withdraw, leaving the fight against Taliban insurgents to Afghan forces.

Four buses carrying Afghan soldiers have been hit by suicide bombers in Kabul in the past two months, with the latest killing seven soldiers on Saturday. Six were killed in an attack two days earlier.

The Taliban are fighting to expel foreign forces and bring down the US-backed government.

With soldiers increasingly a target, the Ministry of Defence cancelled its long-time practice of shuttling soldiers to and from work.

“For now, it is stopped,” said ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri. He would not elaborate on what else might be done to get soldiers to work.

“Some measures have been taken to avoid further casualties after recent attacks and incidents. … We cannot share them right now.” On Monday, employees were seen streaming out of the Ministry of Defence on foot, leaving work early to find their own way home.

Among the options being discussed was having soldiers wear civilian clothes on their way to their posts and changing into uniforms there, according to one army officer.

The defence ministry is also discussing giving soldiers a monthly allowance of 3,000 afghanis ($51) to take buses or taxis, said the officer, who declined to be identified.

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