Suicide bomber kills 17 in Kabul, including 5 ISAF troops
The Taliban have claimed credit for a suicide attack in Kabul today that killed five ISAF soldiers, eight ISAF civilian employees, three Afghan civilians, and a policeman. Three more Coalition soldiers were killed in the south, while the Taliban also deployed a female suicide bomber against Afghan intelligence officials in the eastern province of Kunar.
A suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a Rhino Runner transporting NATO troops to the Kabul Military Training Center Kabul, a US military official told The Long War Journal. The Rhino is an up-armored bus that is used to transport large numbers of troops around the capital.
An initial International Security Assistance Force stated that 13 ISAF troops were killed in the attack, but the report was later updated to specify that five ISAF troops and eight ISAF civilian employees died in the attack. The Associated Press reported that all of the ISAF dead were Americans except for one Canadian soldier.
Afghan Interior Ministry Spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Twitter that "three civilians and a police officer were killed in Kabul." According to The New York Times, two of the Afghan civilians killed were students passing by. Eight Afghans were wounded in the attack, two of them children.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said that a suicide bomber named Abdul Rehman Hazarbos carried out the attack.
"A suicide car bomb attack was carried out on a bus of foreign forces in the Dar-ul-Aman area of Kabul," Mujahid said in a text message.
A US military officer told The Long War Journal that the attack was well planned to maximize Coalition casualties. The blast was large enough to flip the Rhino.
"The Taliban first had to build a bomb big enough to penetrate the Rhino's armor, and then they had to position the suicide bomber to execute the attack," the official said. "Clearly they have been observing our movements and timed this attack."
The attack in Kabul was likely carried out by what US military officials have referred to as 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 and allied groups have averaged one major attack per month in Kabul since the beginning of the year [see LWJ report, Taliban launch complex attack on US embassy in Kabul, for a list of the attacks]. The last major attack took place on Sept. 13, when a suicide assault team took control of a building near ISAF headquarters and the US Embassy and opened fire. At the same time, several suicide attacks took place near police stations elsewhere in the city. The Sept. 13 attack outraged US officials and led to pointed criticism over Pakistan's role in supporting the Taliban and the Haqqani Network [see LWJ report, Admiral Mullen: Pakistani ISI sponsoring Haqqani attacks].
Today's suicide attack in Kabul takes place as the US government is seeking to conduct negotiations with the Taliban's Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network, a powerful Taliban subgroup that is strong in the Afghan east and has been spreading into the south and north.
Female suicide bomber strikes in Kunar
The Taliban carried out a second suicide attack in Afghanistan today. In Kunar province, the Taliban deployed a female suicide bomber to attack an office used by the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's intelligence service. Five intelligence officers were wounded in the attack. The female suicide bomber was described as a "teen-age girl" by Pajhwok Afghan News.
Over the past year, the Taliban have begun to use suicide bombers on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border. Today's suicide attack is the seventh by a female since June 2010 [see list below]. Prior to that attack, the Taliban are not known to have used female suicide bombers.
The Taliban are known have opened camps along the Afghan-Pakistan border that are used to train female bombers, as described by two young girls who were trained to carry out suicide attacks but escaped to tell their stories.
Qari Zia Rahman has established training camps for female suicide bombers in both Pakistan and in Afghanistan. Qari Zia, whom the US military has described as a "dual hatted" al Qaeda and Taliban leader, operates in Kunar and Nuristan provinces in Afghanistan and in the tribal agencies of Bajaur and Mohmand in Pakistan. Qari Zia is closely allied with Faqir Mohammed, the Taliban's leader in Bajaur, and Omar Khalid, the commander for Mohmand. He also was close to slain al Qaeda emir Osama bin Laden. Qari Zia's fighters are from Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and various Arab nations.
Three Australians killed in Kandahar
In the south, a man dressed in an Afghan Army uniform killed three Australian soldiers and an interpreter at a base in Shah Wali Kot in Kandahar province, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Seven other people were wounded in the attack. Afghan soldiers killed the shooter
The identity of the shooter has not been disclosed. It is unclear if the shooter is an Afghan soldier or a Taliban fighter who infiltrated the security forces.
Suicide attacks by female bombers in Afghanistan and Pakistan:
Oct. 29, 2011
Kunar province, Afghanistan
A female suicide bomber wounded five intelligence officials in an attack on an office run by the National Directorate of Security in Kunar province.
Aug. 11, 2011
A female suicide bomber killed an elderly woman while attempting to attack a police outpost in Peshawar.
June 26, 2011
The Taliban gave an eight-year-old girl a bag of explosives and had her walk to a police outpost in the Cino Charo district. The explosives detonated before she reached the police, killing only the girl.
June 25, 2011
Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan
A husband and wife team, said to be Uzbeks, attacked a police station in the town of Kolachi. The team entered the town's police station under the guise of filing a complaint and took several policemen hostage. The pair detonated their vests as police laid siege to the station, killing seven policemen and a tea boy. The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan claimed the attack, and said it was carried out to avenge the death of al Qaeda founder and former leader Osama bin Laden.
June 4, 2011
The Taliban claimed credit for a female suicide attack in the Marawara district that killed three interpreters. The Taliban released an official statement on their propaganda website, Voice of Jihad, and claimed that a "Mujahida sister" killed 12 US and Afghan troops.
Dec. 24, 2010
A female suicide bomber killed 42 Pakistani civilians in an attack at a World Food Program ration distribution point in Khar, Bajaur.
June 21, 2010
A female suicide bomber struck for the first time in Afghanistan in Kunar province. In the attack, two US soldiers were killed and two Afghan children were wounded. Qari Zia Rahman claimed credit for the suicide attack.