Taliban suicide bomber strikes at high-level meeting in Afghan north


The Taliban launched a deadly suicide attack at the governor's compound in the northern province of Takhar today, killing the police chief for northern Afghanistan and the provincial chief of police, and wounding the governor of the province and ISAF's northern commander.

The attack took place as top Afghan and Coalition leaders in the north were meeting at the governor's compound in the city of Taloqan, the provincial capital of Takhar.

The suicide bomber killed General Dawood Dawood, the top commander for the Afghan National Police in the north; Mawlawi Shah Jahan, the chief of police for Takhar province; the governor's secretary; and a security guard, according to TOLONews. Two German soldiers were also killed, and Major General Markus Kneip, Regional Commander North for the International Security Assistance Force, was wounded in the attack, The Associated Press reported. The governor of Takhar was also wounded.

Ten Afghans and an unknown number of Coalition soldiers were also reported to have been wounded in the attack. Many of those wounded are said to have suffered serious burns. The extent of General Kneip's injuries have not been disclosed. ISAF has only confirmed that Kneip "was not killed in the blast," an official told Reuters.

The Taliban claimed the attack in Takhar and said the purpose of the strike was to assassinate Afghan leaders who commanded operations in the north. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid made the claim to The Associated Press. In s statement release on its propaganda website, Voice of Jihad, the Taliban claimed the attack was carried out by a "resident of Takhar" named Mujahid Amad-ud-Din.

Over the past seven months, the Taliban have assassinated two other senior leaders in the Afghan north. In October 2010, a Taliban suicide bomber killed Kunduz Governor Muhammad Omar as he worshiped in a mosque in Takhar province. Omar had been vocal in his opposition to the Taliban, and had consistently warned of the spread of the Taliban and allied terror groups in the Afghan north. And in March, a suicide bomber killed General Abdul Rahman Sayedkhili, the provincial chief of police for Kunduz.

Today's attack is the latest in the Taliban's so-called Badar spring offensive. On May 22, a suicide assault team attacked a police headquarters in Khost, killing six people in a battle that lasted for several hours. On May 21, a Taliban suicide bomber killed six people in the cafeteria of a Kabul hospital used by Afghan forces. Other major Taliban attacks in the last two weeks include an ambush that killed 35 road workers and guards in Paktika; a suicide attack that killed 13 people in Nangarhar; an IED attack that killed eight US soldiers in Kandahar, and another IED attack that killed four ISAF troops in the south.

Background on the Taliban's spring offensive

The Taliban are seeking to roll back Afghan and Coalition gains made in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar over the past year, as well as to reinforce the perception that Taliban forces can strike in all areas of Afghanistan. The Taliban are also trying to break the will of the Afghan security forces as well as intimidate local Afghans.

In their announcement of the Badar offensive, the Taliban said the primary targets would be "foreign invading forces, members of their spy networks and (other) spies, high-ranking officials of the Kabul Puppet Administration, both military and civilian, members of the cabinet, members of the parliament, Heads of foreign and local companies working for the enemy and contractors." The Afghan High Peace Council was also singled out.

The Taliban said Badar would focus on "military centers, places of gatherings, airbases, ammunition and logistical military convoys of the foreign invaders in all parts of the country." Their tactics would include "group and martyrdom seeking attacks," or suicide attacks and assaults; "group offensives," or massed assaults; "city attacks," ambushes, and IED attacks.

The Taliban also said that "strict attention must be paid to the protection and safety of civilians during the spring operations by working out a meticulous military plan."

The Taliban maintain they have no shortage of suicide bombers to carry out attacks. In April, a commander in the Pakistani Taliban claimed that more than 1,000 suicide bombers train at camps in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan.

The Pakistani government refuses to strike the terror groups in North Waziristan despite the known presence of al Qaeda and other foreign terrorist organizations in North Waziristan, as well as requests by the US that action be taken against these groups. The Pakistani military has indicated that it has no plans to take on Hafiz Gul Bahadar, a senior Taliban commander in North Waziristan, or the Haqqani Network, which is also based there. Bahadar and the Haqqanis are considered "good Taliban" by the Pakistani military establishment as they do not carry out attacks inside Pakistan. Yet Bahadar, the Haqqanis, and other Taliban groups openly shelter groups that carry out attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.



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READER COMMENTS: "Taliban suicide bomber strikes at high-level meeting in Afghan north"

Posted by James at May 28, 2011 11:50 AM ET:

Pusillanimous Pakistanis.

When our the people in power in our government and military going to ever face up to the reality that our [so-called] 'alliance' with these despicable thugs like the Hope Diamond has been nothing but a curse right from the get go?

I say, "GO INDIA GO."

Posted by Marlin at May 28, 2011 12:02 PM ET:

As Bill states in this post the Taliban are clearly trying to roll back Coalition gains and intimidate the Afghan population into accepting their authority. This is made ever so much more complicated by the duplicitous nature of the Pakistani government and military. However, in one of under reported news stories of the day, there are paradigm shifts under way that threaten to undermine the Taliban far more significantly than direct combat with Afghan and Coalition forces. Here's hoping this particular paradigm shift actually takes effect and continues the degradation of the Taliban movement.

Pakistan and Afghanistan plan to implement a long-awaited transit trade deal that would help war-ravaged Afghanistan boost its trade and economy from the middle of June, a Pakistani official said on Saturday.

The U.S.-sponsored trade accord signed in October 2010 was to be implemented in February but the two neighbors delayed it after they failed to agree on bank guarantees for Afghan goods.

[...]

"There has been a very significant progress. There's no major issue, problem which is holding up its implementation," the official, who requested not to be identified, told Reuters.

"I think there is no reason that it is not implemented from June 12," he said.

Pakistan has long expressed its concern over smuggling into Pakistan of goods being imported by Afghanistan.

To ensure the consignments reach Afghanistan and not smuggled back to Pakistan, Pakistan sought bank guarantees from Afghan importers.

Reuters: Afghan trade deal may be implemented from June:Pakistan official

Posted by ArneFufkin at May 28, 2011 12:37 PM ET:

It would be interesting to see if there exist any disparities regarding security measures and protocol in the RC North from those in the RCs East, South and Southwest that could be linked to the fact that the HQ command is with German and other Euro-centric ISAF members and not the Americans.

I find it hard to believe any suicide crews could get that near Commanding Generals Terry, Toolan or Allyn in the other commands.

Posted by Charu at May 28, 2011 1:09 PM ET:

The Taliban suicide bomber; Pakistan's predator drone for asymmetric warfare in Afghanistan, just as they use terrorist bombings and shootings in their war against India. But, like every other outlaw tactic they use, it blows back on their faces. High tech weaponry and skilled soldiers are tightly controlled by professional militaries. But Pakistan's rogue army cannot control its low tech weapons of choice, and the million (billion) dollar question for the world is this outlaw nation's control of its WMDs and when, not if, its terrorist surrogates will graduate to warfare against civilians on a nuclear scale.

Posted by Neo at May 28, 2011 7:30 PM ET:

If you increase the number of both coalition troops and Afghan troops, you will create more opportunities for infiltration. If there is constant cooperation between Afghan staff officers and coalition officers, there will also be more opportunities like this. The same thing happened at the height of the Iraqi war. It is one of the costs of building a larger Afghan army. Success extracts its own price.

Posted by JRP at May 28, 2011 8:27 PM ET:

AQ and Taliban infiltration techniques should never be questioned. They are very very good at it. Remember the 12/30/2009 FOB Chapman CIA disaster. Absolutely no high-ranking U.S. civilian or military personages should be in that War Zone or meeting with any of these people or inviting them over here. Their religious zealotry knows no bounds and they come up with amazingly imaginative and cunning tricks to get through or around security. I have no doubt that sooner or later they will get their hands on one or more nukes or on enough radioactive waste material to start manufacturing dirty bombs. That is why it is imperative that we give Pakistan the same warning JFK did to the Soviet Union back during the Cuban crisis of October 1962 that we would view any attack from Cuba as having emanated from the Soviet Union.

Posted by Marlin at May 28, 2011 11:59 PM ET:

The Taliban have been using IEDs and suicide bombers very effectively the past few days in Afghanistan but not everything is going their way.

A crack SAS team has [...] seized Maulawi Rahman and Maulawi Mohammed at a high-walled compound north of the remote town of Babaji in Helmand province.

[...]

Rahman and Mohammed – members of the Quetta Shura, the Taliban’s Pakistani-based high command – were held along with three henchmen, and 80kg of raw opium packed in bales with a street value of £128,000 was also seized.

[...]

The key target of the raid on May 14 was Rahman. Security sources say he had known Bin Laden since the Al Qaeda leader lived in caves in the Tora Bora mountains of eastern Afghanistan a decade ago.

Rahman and Mohammed slipped over the border from Pakistan earlier this year after Coalition forces killed or detained scores of Taliban brigade commanders in a series of ground raids and air strikes in Afghanistan

This had left the Taliban without any high-level leadership as it prepared for its traditional summer offensive.

Daily Mail: Top Al Qaeda commanders with close links to Bin Laden captured in SAS dawn raid

Posted by Max at May 29, 2011 7:23 AM ET:

I'm puzzled as to how this bomber got through security. Surely ISAF was doing body checks themselves and not trusting security solely to the Afghans? Someone needs their backside kicked.

Posted by Michael Tucker at May 29, 2011 10:24 PM ET:

I think we are beginning to see signs of what we all thought might become an unavoidable action: disarm Pakistan (step 1 of ...). Seems like a good time to put the pedal to the metal.

Posted by Blackhawk Squadron at May 30, 2011 10:15 PM ET:

ISAF troops should not be mixing with Afghan troops, ISAF troops should be at home protecting their own borders.