Taliban launch suicide assault in Kabul following Obama's departure


Just hours following President Barack Obama's departure from Afghanistan after signing a strategic agreement with President Hamid Karzai, the Taliban launched a complex suicide assault targeting a civilian compound in Kabul.

A Taliban suicide assault team, estimated at five men strong, attacked the Green Village, a private compound that is used by foreigners. Several of the Taliban fighters were reported to be wearing burkas, according to Pajhwok Afghan News.

A Taliban fighter detonated a car bomb at the main gate of the compound at about 6:15 a.m. local time. The four other fighters, wearing suicide vests and armed with assault rifles, hand grenades, and rocket-propelled grenades, then entered a parking area in the outer perimeter of the base, according to a report received by The Long War Journal.

Private security guards fought off the attackers and were then supported by Afghan security forces. The fighting lasted for four hours before the last Taliban fighter detonated his suicide vest in a building inside the compound, according to TOLONews. Four explosions were heard during the fighting.

Four civilians, including at least one child, were killed in the initial suicide attack at the gate. One Nepalese security guard was killed during the fighting. All five Taliban fighters were killed during the assault.

The International Security Assistance Force said the attack "was unsuccessful in killing any ISAF personnel but once again, resulted in Afghan civilian casualties to include a number of wounded children."

Today's attack was likely carried out by Kabul Attack Network, the terror alliance that is tasked with striking at key targets in and around the Afghan capital. The Kabul Attack Network is made up of fighters from the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, and cooperates with terror groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, 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 two years ago.

The Taliban claimed credit for the complex suicide assault in a statement that was released at their propaganda website, Voice of Jihad.

"The operation was planned hurriedly after finding out about Obama's 'surprise visit' to Afghanistan," the statement said.

The Taliban claimed four fighters were involved in the assault, and named the fighters as "Ahmad (Parwan province), Muhammad Raza (Kabul), Abdul Bari (Wardak) and Hameed Khan (Takhar)."

The Taliban attack was a clear message to the US and NATO that it plans on continuing to fight, and occurred just hours after President Obama's "surprise visit" to Kabul, where he signed a strategic pact with President Hamid Karzai. Obama also addressed the nation from Bagram Air Base in Parwan province on "ending the war in Afghanistan."

In his speech, Obama claimed that NATO and Afghan forces "broke the Taliban's momentum" and "devastated al Qaeda's leadership."

Additionally, Obama said that the US and NATO are "pursuing a negotiated peace" with the Taliban.

"In coordination with the Afghan government, my administration has been in direct discussions with the Taliban," he said. "We've made it clear that they can be a part of this future if they break with al Qaeda, renounce violence and abide by Afghan laws."

The Taliban have publicly rejected these conditions in the past, most recently in an official statement that was released at Voice of Jihad on Jan. 27.

Additionally, documents seized during the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound show that Taliban leader Mullah Omar was in communication with bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri on coordinating strategy in Afghanistan.



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READER COMMENTS: "Taliban launch suicide assault in Kabul following Obama's departure"

Posted by rana imran at May 2, 2012 1:55 PM ET:

What was the sin of families of Nato, US & other anti Taliban forces? Why Nato & US is going back after making strong of Taliban in Afghanistan & Pakistan? United Arabs and Paki army and send them to afghanistan to end the Taliban which were nourished by these states. End of Nato USA mission is dishonesty with died souls and troubled families of Nato US army men.

Posted by mike merlo at May 2, 2012 3:58 PM ET:

The fact that this attack was organized, planned & executed on the fly shows some raison d'etre on the part of our adversaries. I wonder if any evidence has been uncovered suggesting possible inside help?

Posted by Devin Leonard at May 2, 2012 4:17 PM ET:

If this is the best the Taliban can do...Obama may be at least partially right about their degraded capability. The Haqqani network on the otherhand are the ones who seem to be the A-Team...and need to be the focus of our military hammer.

Posted by Don at May 2, 2012 11:22 PM ET:

Mike: Sorry, I must disagree. This attack wasn't "organized, planned & executed on the fly..." You don't break suicide bombers out like spare ammo mags, and you don't set up VBIEDs (Vehicle-Borne IED) in an hour. This attack had been in the planning quite some time...Green Village was just one of several potential targets. They do surveillance on the target array, pick a desired date, then go out and hit whatever target is most "approachable" that day. If the security is too tight, they stand down and try again a couple of days later. This just happened to be the day POTUS was in-country...they certainly didn't know, and couldn't have thrown this together at the last minute if they had known.

Inside help is always a consideration...anytime you have LNs (local nationals) working on your base you should assume the vetting process to hire them may have allowed some to slip through. However, what usually leads to insider threat over here is the likelihood that the INS (insurgents) have co-opted a previously reliable LN by threatening his family if he doesn't cooperate. Since the INS surveillance includes photography whenever possible, sometimes they're able to ID the LN employee and get to him. It happens...we had the same situation in Vietnam.

Don // Kabul

Posted by mike merlo at May 5, 2012 12:03 PM ET:

re: Don
Good point. Appreciate the 'flip side view.'