Taliban launch coordinated attacks in Kabul and 3 provinces


Spring offensive1.jpg

The Taliban launched coordinated attacks in the Afghan capital and three other provinces today. In Jalalabad in Nangarhar province, US and Afghan forces repelled a suicide assault on a military base. Attacks were also reported in the provincial capitals of Paktia and Logar.

In Kabul, the Taliban targeted seven different locations in the Wazir Akbar Khan district, which hosts foreign embassies, an ISAF base, and other sensitive installations. The Taliban reportedly seized control of several buildings under construction and opened fire on the US, German, Russian, and British embassies, the Afghan parliament, the Kabul Military Training Center, and other sites. Gunfire and at least 10 explosions were heard in locations throughout the capital.

In Jalalabad, the Taliban launched attacks against Forward Operating Bases Finley-Shields and Fenty.

"At approximately 1:30 p.m., a large explosion occurred outside FOB Fenty, near the airfield located in Jalalabad. The attack caused no damage or injuries to the installation," the US military said in a press release.

At 1:53 p.m., a four-man suicide assault team launched an assault on FOB Finley-Shields, but was repelled after killing one civilian with a "vehicular-borne suicide bomb," or car bomb, and "small arms fire." The base defenders killed three of the attackers and captured one other. Afghan security forces found "26 RPG rockets and two launchers, 1 PK-machine gun with 500 rounds, three AK-47 assault rifles, nine hand grenades, one pistol and several master keys" after the attack on the base.

In Logar, the Taliban took control of a building near an office of Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security intelligence service in Pul-i-Alam, the provincial capital. In Paktia, the Taliban seized a building near the university in Gardez, the provincial capital. Fighting is said to be ongoing in both Paktia and Logar.

In addition, the BBC reports that 15 militants who were planning attacks were captured in Kunduz city in the province of Kunduz. And two suicide bombers and an attack planner were captured in central Kabul province, according to Pajhwok News.

In all 19 Taliban fighters and two civilians were reported to have been killed during the fighting.

The Taliban claimed the attacks on their website, Voice of Jihad, and in emails to journalists.

"In all these attacks, tens of mujahedeen fighters equipped with light and heavy weapons, suicide vests, RPGs, rockets, heavy machine guns and hand grenades are attacking their targets," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, according to The Associated Press. "We are strong and we can attack anywhere we want," he continued, and said the Taliban would announce its "spring offensive soon."

Today's coordinated attacks take place just five days after the spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force claimed that it hasn't seen evidence of "cohesive action" by the Taliban yet this spring [see LWJ report, Taliban suicide bombers kill 17 in attacks in south, west].

Today's attacks were likely carried out by the Haqqani Network, the powerful al Qaeda-linked Taliban subgroup commanded by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin. The Haqqani Network executed a similar attack in Kabul in September 2011, in which its fighters fanned out in the capital, occupied buildings, and targeted the US Embassy, NATO headquarters, and other installations, as well as an assault on a hotel in Kabul in June 2011. Admiral Mike Mullen, then the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said evidence linked the attack to the Haqqanis, and that the September attack was supported by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. Afghan intelligence later released phone conversations of Haqqani commanders directing members of the suicide assault team in the June attack. The Haqqanis released a video commemorating the June attack later in the year.

The Haqqani Network has an extensive presence in Kabul, Paktia, and Logar, and coordinates operations in the capital with the so-called 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 Kabul Attack Network is led by Dawood (or Daud) and Taj Mir Jawad, military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal. Dawood is the Taliban's shadow governor for Kabul, while Taj Mir Jawad is a top commander in the Haqqani Network. In the US military files that were released by WikiLeaks, Taj Mir Jawad is identified as a key Haqqani Network leader.



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READER COMMENTS: "Taliban launch coordinated attacks in Kabul and 3 provinces"

Posted by mike merlo at April 15, 2012 2:38 PM ET:

No big deal. Some hit & run activity with a few suicider's thrown into the mix.

Posted by Devin Leonard at April 15, 2012 3:07 PM ET:

So much for the idiotic statement that the Taliban can't commit coordinated Ops. The NATO guy who said that should be replaced. We need to re-double our efforts via Drone strikes and night raids against the Haqqani network and shut them down for good!

Posted by Peterson at April 15, 2012 3:57 PM ET:

According to Taliban these attacks heralded their spring offensive. So it is very important to assess their success
objectively.
So far we know: 2 security personell and 1 civilian were killed in "complex attacks" by these "tens of mujahedeen". Number of Taliban killed unknown (17 in Kabul alone). Same day: 15 Taliban captured / killed in Logar (100 others last week).

Does this look like a strong organization? Was this attack successful? Very important to get numbers verified, in order to assess what we can expect this spring & summer. Hope LWJ will count and summarize this in a couple of days.

Posted by LAL1859 at April 15, 2012 7:59 PM ET:

Insightful observation that today's attack bears similarity to the Sept 2011 attacks in Kabul.

The use of buildings "under construction" a key similarity. The civilian traffic associated with a construction site provides ample opportunity for extensive reconnaissance and infiltration of personnel, as well as caching of supporting materials.

Numerous "high profile" attacks in Kabul conducted near construction sites that provide "cover" for extensive reconnaissance that is a hallmark of Haqqani attacks in Kabul.

The CWIED attack that killed two Americans on 20 May 2009 on the Bagram Road occurred at a road recent construction site, as did the 18 May 2010 attack that killed five ISAF Soldiers and killed and injured a number of civilians.

If our Afghan and Allied intelligence colleagues are on the ball, there should be useful clues from those who supervised and worked at the site of the buildings under construction used in today's attack.

Posted by Ed at April 15, 2012 9:34 PM ET:

It's time to teach Haqqani a lesson.
Show them who is boss man.
$1000 for every Haqqani head brought to Kubul!
The tribe with the most heads wins a additional voting seat in parliament.
This is unacceptable behavior and should be punished accordingly.
Pakistan should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by captainjohann at April 16, 2012 12:25 AM ET:

I am an Indian and I find this story about ISI involvement is as truthful as the ISAF commanders claim about lack of Taliban's military capability for cordination. They have not only cordinated well but also exposed the failure of Afghan Intelligence. The labour force employed by the contractors seem to tbe the real Taliban fighters while Afghan military and special teams learn the American way of drinking coke in AC rooms and watching TV. A full over haul is required of the Intelligence set up as well as NATO leadership.

Posted by jean at April 16, 2012 9:30 AM ET:

Excellent news coverage. …… Liberally spaced editorial comments by journalists about the failure of the security forces, another great spring offensive (lasted less than 24 hours) any monkey can climb a building/hillside and shoot an RPG. Buried in reporting, most of the insurgents killed, ANSF handled the QRF. Note to the AQ/TAB – FOB Fenty is not a soft target; ask the last group of clowns.

Posted by Lakshman at April 16, 2012 11:26 AM ET:

This attack by Pak Army by one of its proxies is a revenge against the Americans who killed Pak soldiers some time back. Pak is sending signals to U.S. planners that they still mean something in Afghanistan.

However, it is heartening to learn from U.S. officials that the attacks were repulsed by the Afghans on their own. If it is true, it would have sent shivers down the spine of Paki criminals. U.S should spray pesticides so that poppy growth is stopped forever. Within three years the back of the ISI can be broken and Afghanistan can think of liberty.

Posted by Gerald at April 16, 2012 12:29 PM ET:

Tet Lite, Part Deux!

Posted by Max at April 16, 2012 4:39 PM ET:

38 "attackers" dead. These terrorists are the only military organization in the world that can have an almost total massacre of their forces and claim a "victory". One can only hope they have a lot more of these "victories", and soon.

Posted by Mr T at April 16, 2012 7:42 PM ET:

They are good at attacking innocent civilians and empty buildings. They are also good at killing themselves.

Like an army of nitwits.

Meanwhile smarter people carry on their daily lives. They submit to the danger but will NEVER submit to the enemy.

How many Taliban have been killed or captured since 9/11? Many, many more than then their opponents. Thats not a story they want to be told.

Posted by James at April 16, 2012 9:36 PM ET:

Just laughable, "Tens of mujahadeen fighters . . . " ! ! !

Posted by Win at April 17, 2012 2:02 AM ET:

Congratulations ....... US is winning the war in Afghanistan ..... only 50 years more ......

Posted by Neo at April 17, 2012 3:08 AM ET:

Looks like this round of attacks was less successful than last September. The scale was every bit as big, but picking so many targets may have made the attacks less successful. Basic security by Afghan Army and Police seems to be much improved. It looks like everyone knew what their assignments were. Security forces should be in for some major praise.

Posted by Barry Larking at April 17, 2012 5:03 AM ET:

BBC television broadcast Afghan spokesman claiming 36 Taliban were killed in fighting. Film excepts showed feet of two dead suspects amid rubble during subsequent searches by I.S.A.F. in Kabul. Even the normally skeptical B.B.C. reported Afghan police were effective in isolating then subduing attackers. All round another bad day for Pakistan.

Posted by peter at April 17, 2012 10:04 AM ET:

According to Taliban the fighting lasted 24hr and " more than 220 NATO-puppet forces killed."

So it's pretty much word against word. Both parties can claim whatever they want and no neutral party can verify anything.

But to carry out such an attack in the capital city Kabul after more than 10 years of fighting does show that Taliban are still a force to recon with.

Posted by BobK at April 17, 2012 10:33 PM ET:

Peter:
You say it is one word against anothers word as to numbers killed without any way to verify such. You know better than that. Any US, UK, French , Polish. Turkish troop death is absolutely confirmed and enumerated and anounced. That is fact and is "neutrally" verifiyable. To say otherwise is silly and false. If they , the taliban, truly killed 220 Nato forces it would be so loudly proclaimed world wide that it would be news for weeks on end.
As far as 20 or 30 suicide folks timing attacks on several sites at similar times , really how much does it really take to do that, not as much as many seem to give them credit for Yes it takes some coordination and effort but in a country like afgan with help from another nations Intel....
Mountains out of molehill time.

Posted by Erik at April 18, 2012 2:30 PM ET:

One item in this article is completely false.

FOB Finley Shields suffered massive damage from a fire that ensued as a result of the attack. Many of the U.S. Soldiers based thier have lost EVERYTHING. Whatever meager possessions they had to sustain themselves have been reduced to ashes... LITERALLY.

Posted by Devin Leonard at April 18, 2012 7:42 PM ET:

The Taliban maybe a force that can carry out attacks....but they are hardly a force that can outmatch NATO or particularly the US military. This attack was basically a big waste of time. They got thier butts handed to them by the US, Some British and Norweigen Spec Ops forces (who were in Kabul mentoring the Afghans) and even the ANSF forces slapped them around. This proves to me that the Taliban are losing the war.

Posted by BobK at April 18, 2012 11:50 PM ET:

Thanks for the updated info on damage at FOB FInley-Shields. I will follow up and see if possibly somehow we can help these guys replace some of their belongings, unsure how but.. maybe frg etc.
As far as anything being "completely false" I don't see that!. It states FOB Fenty undamaged and FOB Fin-Shlds repulsed attack, with some attacker Killed or captured. No mention of damage or lack of damage etc.
BTW someone I know well with the same name as me is currently at one of those locations.

Posted by matt at April 19, 2012 7:50 AM ET:

The Taliban can lose every engagement and still win the war.

"You have the watches but we have the time....."

Posted by Devin Leonard at April 19, 2012 1:27 PM ET:

Matt- this is tecnically a true statement. The Vietnamese lost 90% of the battles they fought against the US, but basically won the Vietnam war. Also the British had penetrated the IRA's upper leadership to some degree by the early 1990's, yet the IRA was still able to bomb British cities at will during the 1990's. The war between the British and IRA ended in a stalemate. This may happen in Afghanistan with the US. But we have still killed tens of thousands more Taliban/Al Qaida/and Haqqani then they have of us...and that means something. It is a sign of a superior war machine. It doesen't mean we will win 100%, but body count does matter to some degree, as does taking territory. Both of which we have done since the surge.

Posted by Villiger at April 20, 2012 10:54 AM ET:

Albeit a bit late in this discussion, i thought it worthwhile to link this analysis of the pretty strong response by the ANSF to these attacks


http://ramanstrategicanalysis.blogspot.in/2012_04_18_archive.html

Posted by Barry Larking at April 20, 2012 12:54 PM ET:

Devin: I believe analogies made between very, very different conflicts to be unhelpful. S.F.-I.R.A. self destructed in contradiction. Vietnam is trying to re-join the western economic system. Nothing like what is happening or will happen in Afghanistan.