‘Taliban shift focus to Afghan bases from cities following Trump’s new policy’


KABUL: A spate of deadly Taliban attacks targeting Afghan forces this week was a show of strength against Donald Trump’s new strategy, and signalled a push to strike security bases rather than cities, analysts said.

In three of the four ambushes since Tuesday, militants used bomb-laden Humvees to blast their way into targets, seeking to demoralise war-weary security forces, and steal weapons and vehicles to fuel their insurgency.

It marks a change in focus from recent years when the Taliban fought to control and hold provincial capitals, such as the northern city of Kunduz, which briefly fell to the militants twice in the past 24 months.

“[The Taliban] want to be showing their potency after the summer unveiling of the Trump policy of staying on with larger forces,” said Vanda Felbab-Brown, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “They haven’t tried to hold provincial capitals… they are not wasting their assets on that.”

Militants have launched several devastating assaults on security forces already this year, including an attack on a base in northern Mazar-i-Sharif in the spring in which at least 144 people were killed.

But this week stands apart for the number of attacks in such a short time – five in as many days with an overall death toll of around 150 people – and coming after the US and Afghan forces have stepped up their own offensives.