Taliban strike again in Kandahar
As the death toll in Sunday's suicide bombing at a dogfight in Kandahar topped 100 Afghanis, the Taliban struck for the second time in two days in the southeastern province. A suicide bomber rammed his car into a Canadian Army convoy passing through the border town of Spin Boldak. The attack killed 37 and wounded more than 30, many of them critically, said Asadullah Khalid, the governor of Kandahar province.
"A white Toyota Corolla car rammed the second vehicle in the (military) convoy as it passed through the bazaar," said Abdul Hakim, a witness to the attack told CTV. "Then there was a huge explosion. '' Four Canadian soldiers were reported wounded in the attack, but have been released for the hospital and have returned to duty, CTV reported.
Spin Boldak is a major border crossing point between southern Afghanistan and Baluchistan province in southwestern Pakistan. The Taliban Shura Majlis, or senior council, is thought to be based out of Quetta to the east in Baluchistan.
The Canadians have courted Abdur Razzaq, a leader of the Achezai tribal, to fight the Taliban in the Spin Boldak region. Razzaq is the chief of the border police in the Spin Boldak region. The Achezai tribe makes up the police force, and conducted operations against the Taliban prior to Operation Medusa in 2006. The Taliban clearly is not concerned with civilian casualties inflicted on the Achezai tribe.
The deaths caused by the Taliban suicide bombing in Kandahar on Feb. 17 have now exceeded 100, making it the single largest suicide attack in Afghanistan since the Taliban was ousted from power in 2002. Thirty-five of those killed were auxiliary policemen belonging to anti-Taliban tribal leader and police commander Abdul Hakim Jan, who operated in the strategic district of Arghandab district, just north of Kandahar City. Jan was also killed in the attack.
The past two days of suicide bombings in Kandahar nearly mirrors a Taliban suicide campaign that was launched in January 2006, just prior to the onset of Operation Medusa, an operation designed to clear the Taliban from Kandahar later in the year. The Taliban inflicted scores of casualties in the two suicide bombings in Kandahar City and the one bombing in Spin Boldak in 2006. These attacks sparked major protests against the Taliban and its leader Mullah Omar.
The recent attacks in Kandahar province come as the Taliban are plotting their latest "spring offensive" and US and Pakistani forces have scored two major blows to the Taliban and al Qaeda leadership. On Jan. 29, an airstrike killed Abu Laith al Libi in North Waziristan. Laith was a senior al Qaeda commander responsible for military and suicide operations in southeastern Afghanistan. On Feb. 11, Pakistani police captured Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, the former Taliban commander of southern Afghanistan. Both Mansoor and Laith were instrumental in establishing al Qaeda and the Taliban's suicide bombing networks in southern and eastern Afghanistan.
Matt Dupee contributed to this report.