The Taliban launched a complex attack against a newly established combat outpost in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nuristan. Heavy fighting is currently underway, and US forces have taken multiple casualties in the attack. Nine US soldiers have been killed during the battle.
The Taliban launched the attack early this morning at approximately 4:30 AM according to a press release from the International Security Assistance Force. The Taliban initiated the battle “with small arms, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars using homes, shops and the mosque in the village of Wanat for cover.”
Afghan and US forces based at the outpost have fought back and called in artillery and helicopter support and airstrikes.
Afghan, US, and Taliban casualties had not been released as the fighting is ongoing, but ISAF reported that “there have been casualties on both sides of the fight.” The Associated Press reported that nine US soldiers have been killed. ISAF later confirmed nine US troops were killed, and 15 US soldiers and four Afghan troops were wounded. The attack is one of the largest incidents of US casualties during a ground engagement in Afghanistan.
In separate incident in Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan, a Taliban suicide bomber killed 24 Afghans and wounded more than 40 in a deadly suicide attack at a market. Security officials said Afghan police were the target, and several policemen were reported killed in the attack.
In Helmand province, US Marines and Afghan forces have killed over 40 Taliban fighters after being ambushed by a 75-man force in the Sangin district. More than 30 Taliban boats and several bridges were also destroyed during the engagement. The day prior, a suicide bomber killed two Afghan soldiers and two children in an attack on an Afghan Army base in Sangin.
Today’s attacks play directly into al Qaeda and the Taliban’s propaganda and military strategy. The Taliban have launched a series of assaults on US and Afghan bases and patrol and government centers throughout the eastern regions of Afghanistan that border Pakistan’s tribal areas. The extremists hope to destabilize the Afghan government and overrun an outpost or district center as a show of strength.
Al Qaeda spokesman and Afghan commander Abu Yahya al Libi released a seven-minute videotape earlier this week titled “A Message To One of the Sheiks.” Al Libi said the attacks on Coalition bases and suicide attacks show the Taliban is gaining strength and is “determined to turn the upcoming winter to hell for the infidels.” The Taliban in Afghanistan “are going through continuous triumphs … and are in a better shape compared with what they had been before,” he stated.
Correction: ISAF identified the outpost as being located in the town of Wanat in Kunar province. AIMS maps also identify Wanat as being located in Kunar. The town straddles the provincial boundary between Kunar and Nuristan, and Afghan officials state the town is in Nuristan. This entry has been update to reflect that Wanat is in Nuristan.