Taliban launch terror assault on Kabul


The Taliban carried out a daylight terror assault today on government centers and civilian targets in the Afghanistan capital of Kabul, creating panic and sparking gun battles in the heart of the city.

Taliban fighters wearing suicide vests and carrying assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades launched an attack outside a central square where the presidential palace, the Justice Ministry, and the Central Bank are located. Fighting spread to the Serena Hotel, the Grand Afghan shopping center, and a movie theater.

At least two suicide bombers detonated during the battle, and another one drove an ambulance packed with explosives into the square.

Afghan commandos, soldiers, and police were rushed to the scene to battle the Taliban assault team. Fighting raged at the shopping center and movie center for almost six hours after the attack began.

Seven Taliban fighters, three soldiers, and two civilians were killed in the fighting.

The Taliban took credit for the assault, in a statement released on the group's website, the Voice of Jihad. Spokesman Zabihllah Mujaid claimed that 20 Taliban fighters carried out the attack and said more than two dozen members of the Afghan security forces were killed in fighting throughout the city. The Afghan Taliban routinely inflate casualties in their statements.

The attack took place as President Karzai is preparing to offer the Taliban an amnesty. The Taliban have said repeatedly that they would not accept a negotiated settlement, and they insist that NATO forces leave Afghanistan before any talks can take place.

Today's attack closely follows the pattern of a series of Taliban and Haqqani network strikes in Afghanistan's cities since January 2008. The Taliban have been targeting ministry buildings, security installations, and the Indian Embassy.

Similar attacks have taken place in Pakistan's major cities, as well as in Mumbai, India. The Mumbai attack was the most deadly, with more than 170 people killed as the Lashkar-e-Taiba assault teams were able to shut down the city for more than 60 hours.

List of major complex and suicide attacks in Afghanistan since January 2008:

Jan. 18, 2010: A Taliban assault team struck at the presidential palace, the Justice Ministry, and the Central Bank. Seven Taliban fighters, three policemen, and two civilians were killed.

Oct. 24, 2009: An al Qaeda and Haqqani Network suicide assault team killed five foreign UN workers and three Afghans in an attack on a UN guesthouse in Kabul.

Oct. 8, 2009: A Taliban suicide bomber killed 17 civilans and wounded more than 80 in an attack outside the Indian embassy in Kabul.

Sept. 2, 2009: A Taliban suicide bomber assassinated the deputy chief of Afghanistan's intelligence service and the leader of the provincial council during an attack at a mosque in Laghman province. The two Afghan leaders were among 23 people killed in the deadly attack.

July 24, 2009: Police in Khost City killed seven Taliban fighters as they attempted to assault the provincial police headquarters and a bank.

July 21, 2009: Suicide bombers armed with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles attacked government installations and a US base in the cities of Gardez and Jalalabad. Eight Taliban fighters and six Afghan security personnel were reported killed in the failed attacks.

May 12, 2009: The Taliban launched a multi-pronged suicide attack against government and security installations in Khost province, a stronghold of the deadly Haqqani Network. Eleven Taliban fighters and nine civilians were killed in the day-long assault.

April 1, 2009: Four Taliban suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers attempted to kill the Kandahar provincial council after entering the compound. Security forces foiled the attack but seven civilians and six policemen were killed during the fighting.

March 30, 2009: A suicide bomber wearing a police uniform penetrated security at a police compound in Kandahar's Andar district and killed five policemen and four civilians after detonating his vest.

Feb. 11, 2009 The Taliban conducted a multi-pronged assault on two Afghan ministries and a prison headquarters in the capital of Kabul that resulted in 19 people killed and more than 50 wounded.

Feb. 2, 2009: A suicide bomber detonated his vest inside a training center for police reservists in the town of Tarin Kot in Uruzgan province. Twenty-one Afghan police were killed and seven more were wounded in the suicide attack.

Dec. 4, 2008: A three-man suicide team stormed the headquarters of Afghanistan's intelligence service in Khost province. Six intelligence and police officials were killed and another seven were wounded.

Sept. 7, 2008: Two Taliban suicide bombers entered a police headquarters in Kandahar province and searched for a senior police general in charge of border security at the Spin Boldak crossing point. Six policemen were killed and 37 were wounded, including the general, in the bombings.

Sept. 6, 2008: A Taliban suicide bomber penetrated a secure government building in the southwestern province of Nimroz and detonated his vest. The attack killed six people, including Nimroz province's intelligence chief and his 20-year-old son.

July 7, 2009: A suicide car bomber hit the outside wall of the Indian embassy in a crowded neighborhood in Kabul on Monday, killing 54 people and wounding more than 140.

On April 27, 2008: A Taliban assault team attempted to assassinate President Karzai during a military parade outside Kabul. Two members of parliament were killed and 11 others were wounded during the barrage of automatic gunfire and mortar shells.

Jan. 14, 2008: A suicide assault team from the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network raided the heavily secured Serena Hotel. Terrorists wearing suicide vests breached the front gate with a suicide attack and then entered the hotel and began shooting civilians. A Norwegian journalist, an American aid worker, and at least five security guards were killed in the assault.



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READER COMMENTS: "Taliban launch terror assault on Kabul "

Posted by omar at January 18, 2010 1:36 PM ET:

A few early observations:
1. The "Mumbai style attack" is here to stay. Practically any city can be hit by 10 or 20 suicidal attackers and hours or days of chaos will ensue.
2. On the other hand, this is not the first mumbai style attack in afghanistan and ALL of them have been cleared within hours, not days. Security forces also learn (and are probably more competent in Afghanistan than they are in India).
3. These attackers were NOT as ruthless as the Mumbai attackers. Shopkeepers were apparently told to get out. This probably means that Afghans were doing the attacking, not Lashkar e Tayaba types, and afghan taliban continue to be wary of civilian casualties. This is not likely to be the case in future attacks in India or other "infidel" countries, where attackers can and will kill anyone they see.
4. Ultimately, there is no defence against these attacks in most of Eurasia except by getting the planners and organizers to stop (either by killing them or by pressurizing them in some other way or buying them off or accepting their demands). IF an organization like Lashkar wants to carry out an attack in India or Russia, its only a matter of time. Given the incompetence and general corruption rampant in most states, an opening will be found. Even a country like China can be hit provided the militants WANT to do it badly enough.
"The future's so bright, got to wear shades...."

Posted by kp at January 18, 2010 2:29 PM ET:

Quote: Seven Taliban fighters, three soldiers, and two civilians were killed in the fighting

That seems like a failure for the attackers. Two suicide bombers detonated their payload. And they had a VBIED too. And they killed only 5?

The average for a suicide attack (over decades) is 11.

As doing this sort of attack in the West the real problem is twofold: getting hold of the firearms and explosives (you'd like to have military explosives in the vests with commercial detonators not home made sensitive explosives); needing trained attackers that have extensive firearm experience. It worked in Mumbai because they were trained in Pakistan, provided with real hardware in Pakistan and avoid immigration/customs by boat landing in the city. I think this is a significant barrier to them trying this in the West.

The real issue with this attack is logistics and skilled operators (who you throw away in the attack).

Posted by MalangJan at January 18, 2010 6:15 PM ET:

All praise to Afghan Security Forces. The terrorist wanted to take hostages(Mombai Style). But they failed. It seems there are factories of sucide bombers producing at the disposal of terrorists. The best approach will be to dismantle this infrastructure of terrorism.

Posted by M. Muthuswamy at January 18, 2010 8:32 PM ET:

"Ultimately, there is no defence against these attacks"

I beg to disagree.

Both the Mumbai attack and the Taliban attack have occured due to a state-sponsored terror base called Pakistan.

How come Pakistan has become what it is, but not India?

Get this, ladies and gentlemen: it is not due to Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism or even Atheism.

No points for guessing what is the root cause of this, any more than figuring out what drove Major Nidal Hasan to butcher his colleagues.

Posted by KaneKaizer at January 18, 2010 10:30 PM ET:

I think we will see more and more of these in the coming months as the US surge troops begin their offensive operations. The Taliban will want to compete for the attention and degrade security at the same time. However if they keep attacking shopping malls and other places where there are mostly civilians, it will further turn the Afghan public opinion against them.

Posted by T Ruth at January 18, 2010 11:04 PM ET:

"Both the Mumbai attack and the Taliban attack have occured due to a state-sponsored terror base called Pakistan."

AGREE TOTALLY.

May seem obvious but easy to forget as we focus on the daily detail of Pakistan's state-craft.

Pakistan is not a Nation, it is a Machination.

Posted by T Ruth at January 18, 2010 11:11 PM ET:

'Even a country like China can be hit provided the militants WANT to do it badly enough.'

Even Pakistan can rid of its culture of violence
provided the people WANT to do it badly enough.

Posted by Danny at January 18, 2010 11:46 PM ET:

This is an attack of desperation. The Poor fools think they are fighting against the Soviets still. WE ARE NOT AN EVIL EMPIRE. Desperation causes the suicide bomber to kill himself and those they say they are fighting to protect, because they realize God must really be on the American's side. So your big plans for glory have you stopping at a volleyball game and killing innocent women and children? No glory for you, only hell. The suicide scam is just not going to work as planed, because real evil doesn't care who you kill as long as it kills you before you can seek forgiveness.

Posted by Akmal at January 19, 2010 6:56 AM ET:

I think the west is not playing its role honestly to eliminate them, if it is state sponsored terrorism; why the west is not targeting those state's actors directly or indirectly.
Majority of the people in Pakistan hates terrorism and wants peace and stability in the region; how we can blame the whole nation.
CIA & ISI have been deeply involved (in the past) in creating them and knows all state and non state actors very well; Why they are not targeting them now?

Posted by Andrea wilson at January 21, 2010 4:24 AM ET:

The waste of money in terror activities is the major cause of Pakistan's Economy deterioration.Busy in terror activities always..........

Posted by T Ruth at January 21, 2010 12:21 PM ET:

Andrea, they are a country with a mis-spent youth, now middle-aged and deluded. Bordering on the next stage of dementia....