Taliban suicide bomber attacks US contracting company in Kabul
The Taliban have claimed credit for today's suicide attack in Kabul that targeted a US contracting company. The suicide attack is the second in the Afghan capital this month.
Today's suicide attack took place in the Pul-i-Charkhi area on the Kabul-Jalalabad Road in eastern Kabul. The suicide bomber attacked a compound run by Contrack International, a contracting firm that manages the construction of fuel tank farms at Bagram Airbase as well as an ammunition supply depot on Kandahar Airfield.
According to reports, one person was killed in the massive blast, and more than 15 people were wounded. The International Security Assistance Force said that one Afghan civilian was killed. Several contractors are said to have been wounded in the attack. The massive blast destroyed and damaged many buildings on the compound.
The Taliban claimed credit for the attack in a statement that was released on their website. The statement was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
The Taliban, who routinely exaggerate the effects of their attacks, claimed that "tens of occupation soldiers and agents were killed and injured," including the president of the company.
According to the Taliban statement, the attack was "carried out by the hero 'Atiqullah, one of the mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate," and the truck was "laden with 2,500 pounds of explosives." The Taliban also claimed that the Contrack base was "guarded by special forces belonging to the agent army, and 150 American soldiers and 150 agent soldiers." The attack was launched after "watching this company for a long time," the Taliban said.
The Taliban have conducted suicide and armed attacks at contractor bases in Kabul and in other Afghan cities in the past. In one such attack, in September 2011, gunmen attacked a base in a high-security area of Kabul that is rumored to be used by the Central Intelligence Agency. One US citizen was killed in the attack.
Second suicide attack in Kabul this month
Today's suicide attack is the second in the Afghan capital this month. On Dec. 6, a suicide bomber targeted Asadullah Khalid, the chief of Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security, as he was welcoming visitors at an NDS guesthouse in Kabul.
The Taliban suicide bomber was said to have been disguised as a peace emissary, and his suicide bomb was hidden in his underwear. President Hamid Karzai later said the suicide attack that wounded the NDS chief was planned in Pakistan; Karzai also said he would offer proof.
Taliban suicide bombers also attacked two US military bases in Afghanistan this month. On Dec. 2, a Taliban suicide assault team killed three Afghan guards and four civilians in an attack on Forward Operating Base Fenty in Nangarhar; nine Taliban fighters were also killed. And on Dec. 13, a suicide bomber killed three Afghans in an attack outside of Kandahar Airfield. The attack occurred just hours after US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta left the base.
These attacks have taken place as US military commanders continue to provide upbeat assessments of the war in Afghanistan. The assessments are released as the Obama administration is preparing to determine the size of US forces in Afghanistan after the end of the combat mission in 2014. While no decision has been made, it is thought that a force of between 6,000 to 9,000 troops, garrisoned in one or several bases near Kabul, will be left behind to conduct counterterrorism operations.