The Taliban have pulled off another high-profile, complex suicide assault in the Afghan capital of Kabul. In today’s attack, the Taliban targeted the office of the British Council. Eight people have been reported killed so far; fighting is said to be still underway. From the BBC:
It was a three-phase attack, intelligence sources have told the BBC’s Bilal Sarwary in Kabul: First, a suicide attacker detonated his explosive vest at a main square in western Kabul where police were guarding a key intersection shortly after 05:30 (01:30 GMT).
Ten minutes later, a suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle outside the front gate of the British Council, adds our correspondent.
As the area was evacuated, local shopkeepers say as many as nine suicide attackers armed with rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns and AK 47s started firing as they ran towards the British Council building.
They have exchanged fire with police for hours and sporadic gunfire can still be heard in the area, residents say.
“We believe there are eight to nine suicide attackers hiding inside the British Council building,” police sources told the BBC.
“They have brought enough weapons to fight for a day.”
A gun battle was also reported to have taken place outside a nearby UN compound, according to Reuters.
Today’s attack was likely carried out by the Kabul Attack Network, which is made up of fighters from the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, and cooperates with terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and al Qaeda. Top Afghan intelligence officials have linked the Kabul Attack Network to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate as well. The network’s tentacles extend outward from Kabul into the surrounding provinces of Logar, Wardak, Nangarhar, Kapisa, Ghazni, and Zabul, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal.
The Taliban have carried out several suicide attacks in Afghanistan this week. The most prominent took place in Parwan province on Aug. 14, when a Taliban suicide assault team launched a complex attack on the governor’s compound in central Parwan province, killing 22 people.
The last major attack in Kabul took place one month ago, on July 17, when a suicide team targeted and killed a key ally of President Hamid Karzai. Jan Mohammad Khan, the former governor of Uruzgan province who had become one of Karzai’s top advisers, and Mohammad Hashim Watanwal, a parliamentarian from Uruzgan, were among several people who were killed during the terror assault at Khan’s home.