Security Council press statement on terrorist attacks in Kabul and Kandahar

The Taliban delayed announcing their spring offensive until very recently, he said adding that they were taken aback clearly by the combination of last August's fighting and that the U.S. will stay on in the country.

RSF noted that the double suicide-bombing in Kabul was the latest in an already long list of bloody attacks on media outlets and journalists, who have been "deliberately killed in cold blood in many countries because their reporting caused annoyance". It appeared that the journalists were intentionally targeted by a bomber who hid among members of the media rushing to cover the first explosion.

"Yesterday's (Monday) attack, like all such attacks on journalists, is an attack on Afghanistan's free press and the public's right to know", said David Kaye. "There is absolutely no justification for such a senseless and heinous act".

"The murder of journalists and other innocent people is a great testimony to what it is we stand for and more importantly what we stand against", Mattis said.

"We anticipated and are doing our best and have been successful at blocking many of these attacks on innocent people but unfortunately once in a while they get through because any terrorist organisation that realizes it cant win by ballots and turns to bombs - this is simply what they do, they murder innocent people", he said. "The Taliban realize the danger of the people being allowed to vote", Mattis said.

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Mattis said the bombings were signs of desperation by militants and insisted President Donald Trump's strategy is having success.

The head US commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. John Nicholson, later said that he agreed with Ghani's assessment.

He told the news agency that the landmine had been emplaced by Taliban insurgents for targeting security forces but it killed and wounded civilians.

"So the expansion there is why the enemy has been unable to take any district centres, provincial centres or make any advances there", Mattis said in response to a question.

The United States now has about 15,500 troops in Afghanistan with 7,800, assigned to the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support.