Afghan Air Force pilot killed by Kabul sticky bomb, attack claimed by Taliban
An Afghan Air Force pilot was killed by a bomb in Kabul on Saturday, officials said, in an attack claimed by the Taliban.
The pilot, Hamidullah Azimi, died when a sticky bomb attached to his vehicle detonated, officials said, adding that five civilians were wounded in the explosion.
Azimi was trained to fly US-made UH60 Black Hawk helicopters and had served with the Afghan Air Force for almost four years, the force’s commander, Abdul Fatah Eshaqzai, told Reuters.
He had moved to Kabul with his family a year ago because of security threats, Eshaqzai added.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Muhajid said in a statement that the Taliban carried out the attack.
Reuters was first to detail a Taliban campaign to assassinate pilots off-base that Afghan officials say claimed the lives of at least seven Afghan pilots before Saturday’s killing.
The Taliban has confirmed a programme that would see US-trained Afghan pilots “targeted and eliminated”.
US and Afghan officials believe it is a deliberate effort to destroy Afghanistan’s corps of US- and Nato-trained military pilots as fighting escalates across the country.
The Taliban — who have no air force — want to level the playing field as they press major ground offensives.
Emboldened by Washington’s announcement that it was ending its military mission by the end of August, the Taliban has launched a military blitz across the country which has gained momentum in recent days.
On Friday the insurgents captured their first provincial capital in years when they took control of Zaranj.
Azimi’s death came just days after the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction in a report to the US Congress, said the targeting of pilots detailed by Reuters was another “worrisome development” for the air force.