Taliban suicide bombers kill 17 in attacks in south, west
The Taliban conducted suicide attacks in southern and western Afghanistan that killed 17 people, including seven policemen, and wounded scores more. The latest in a series of suicide bombings, today's attacks took place within hours of a claim by the International Security Assistance Force that it hasn't seen evidence of "cohesive action" by the Taliban yet this spring.
In Herat province in western Afghanistan, a pair of suicide bombers detonated an explosives-packed car at a checkpoint outside of the Guraza district headquarters, killing 12 Afghans and wounding 57 more, according to Pajhwok Afghan News. Three policemen, a woman, and a child were among those killed in the blast.
The Taliban appear to have been planning a suicide assault in Herat; one of the two suicide bombers was dressed in a burka and was wearing a suicide vest, according to TOLOnews.
In Helmand province, a three-man suicide assault team attacked the district headquarters in Musa Qala. One of the suicide bombers rammed a car bomb into the perimeter of the district headquarters. The other two suicide bombers attempted to penetrate the breach but were gunned down by policemen. Four policemen were killed and four Afghans, including the district chief of police, were wounded, according to Pajhwok.
The Taliban claimed credit for the suicide assault in Helmand in a statement released on their website, Voice of Jihad. But the Taliban did not mention the attack in Herat.
Today's attacks occurred shortly after Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, the top spokesman of the International Security Assistance force, stated that ISAF sees no evidence of "cohesive action" by the Taliban to carry out a spring offensive.
"No announcement has been made by the insurgency, but we are looking at what they are doing at the moment. We are looking at this year with very open eyes," Jacobson told Reuters last night. "They are focusing on attacks on individual posts, on small groups, outposts of soldiers. We haven't seen any cohesive action."
But a look at the Taliban's major attacks over the past several weeks seems to refute Jacobson's assessment. While the Taliban have not officially announced a strategy for this year's string offensive as they have done in the past, the pattern of major attacks indicates that a strategy does indeed exist. The Taliban have been targeting members of the Afghan security forces, particularly members of the Afghan local police, as well as anyone who cooperates with ISAF forces. The Taliban have also emphasized infiltrating security forces and killing both Afghan and ISAF members of those forces in an effort to sow distrust.
On April 5 a Taliban suicide bomber killed Nazik Mir, an influential commander of the Afghan Local Police in Kisham district in Badakhshan. The same day, the Taliban killed eight members of the Afghan local police and captured two more in Faryab's Khaki Safed district.
On April 4, a Taliban suicide bomber killed 12 people, including three US soldiers and four Afghan policemen, in an attack in Mamiama, the provincial capital of Faryab.
On March 30, a member of the Afghan Local Police who is reportedly a Taliban infiltrator killed nine of his colleagues as they slept. He poisoned them first, then gunned them down and stole their weapons. And on March 26, a member of the ALP gunned down an ISAF soldier at a checkpoint in the east.