The Taliban has launched yet another attack on a US outpost in Afghanistan from inside Pakistan. A Taliban rocket team fired at a US outpost in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan early this morning from two sites: one within Afghanistan and another about 400 meters across the border in Pakistan. Four rockets struck near the military base, but no casualties were reported.
The military responded by attacking the two sites and notifying the Pakistani military of the attack. US forces lobbed artillery rounds at the launch sites in Pakistan and hit the site inside Afghanistan with fire from aircraft. No Taliban casualties were reported.
Today’s rocket attack is the second such strike launched from inside Pakistan reported this week. The Taliban fired rockets at a US base in Paktika on June 21. One Afghan woman and three children were killed in the attack.
The Taliban have launched a series of attacks against district centers and Afghan and Coalition forces in Paktika and neighboring Paktia province over the past week as part of an attempt to destabilize the eastern region and overrun Afghan government centers.
Twenty-two Taliban were killed after Afghan police repelled attacks on two district centers in Paktika province and one in Paktia province on the night of June 24. Earlier that same day, a large Taliban force made up of Afghan, Arab, and Chechen fighters attacked a district center in Paktia. Afghan and US forces killed 16 Taliban during the attack.
US and Afghan forces killed 55 Taliban and wounded another 25 during a massed attack on a patrol in neighboring Paktika province on June 20.
Further north, US forces engaged a Taliban force as it retreated from Afghanistan’s Kunar province across the border into Pakistan’s Mohmand tribal agency on June 10. The engagement sparked an international incident. The US confirmed it killed eight Taliban fighters, while the Pakistani government said 11 Pakistani troops were killed. The Pakistani government expressed outrage over the strike.
Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the tribal areas. Map from PBS’ Frontline. Click to view.
Paktika and Paktia provinces border the Taliban-controlled tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan in Pakistan. The Taliban, led by Baituallah Mehsud in South Waziristan and the Haqqani family in North Waziristan, use the tribal agencies as bases to attack US and Afghan forces.
US forces have singled out the Haqqanis as a major threat in eastern Afghanistan. Siraj Haqqani is one of the most wanted men in the region because of his close links with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. He was behind the attack on the Serena hotel in Kabul in January.
US forces struck a Haqqani compound inside Pakistan with long-range artillery on March 12. Three unnamed high-level commanders in the Haqqani network were thought to be among those killed.
Sedgai, formerly one of the 12 most wanted men in Afghanistan, was killed in Pakistan early this year. Manan was killed as he was infiltrating into Afghanistan’s Khost district from North Waziristan.
Just two days ago, Coalition forces captured a leader of the Haqqani network and three operatives in a raid in the Sar Hawza district in Paktika.
Taliban attacks in eastern Afghanistan have increased by 40 percent since last year, Major General Jeffrey Schloesser, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force-101, said during a briefing on June 24. While the attacks are “not really effective in lethality” they are “increasingly more complex.”
The strikes are originating in Pakistan, Schloesser said, noting that the “enemy’s taking refuge and operating with what I will call some freedom of movement in the border region, and they’re using this sanctuary to reconstitute, to plan and to launch attacks into Afghanistan.”