The Taliban killed 18 Afghan security personnel in two separate suicide attacks in southern Afghanistan today. One of the attacks killed a border police commander.
The largest of the two attacks took place at a police reserve unit in Tarin Kot, the capital of Uruzgan province. A suicide bomber wearing a police uniform entered the dining facility and detonated his vest, killing 12 policemen and wounding five more, Reuters reported. Four of the wounded are reported to be in critical condition.
It is unclear if the attack was carried out by a policeman, or by a Taliban fighter who entered the compound by wearing a police uniform. The green-on-green variety of insider attacks, which involve Afghan security personnel turning on their own, are more common and often far more deadly than the green-on-blue attacks, in which Afghan forces kill ISAF troops or personnel.
In the second attack today, a suicide bomber killed Akhtar Muhammad, a border police commander, along with five policemen, and wounded 19 more people at the Friendship Gate in Spin Boldak, Kandahar province, Dawn reported. The suicide bomber targeted Akhtar’s vehicle. The Friendship Gate is the crossing point to Pakistan, and across the border is Chaman, where the Taliban are known to operate a command and control center.
Afghan police have been hit especially hard over the past several months as Afghan security forces step in to assume security responsibilities left as Coalition forces draw down. The Interior Ministry said that 299 policemen were killed in June alone.
At least 22 Afghan policemen have been killed so far this month, according to a count by The Long War Journal. Among the policemen killed over the past five days are the senior female police officer in Helmand and a district police chief in Baghlan.
Today’s attacks took place as the international community continues to seek a negotiated settlement with the Taliban after the group set up a “political office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” in Doha, Qatar. The Taliban have employed the office as a de facto embassy, raising the Taliban flag and using the name “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” which is what the Taliban used when they ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, and still use to this day.
Taliban officials have said that suicide attacks, such as the one that targeted the presidential palace in Kabul on June 25, would continue despite the opening of the political office in Qatar. The Taliban have refused to eschew suicide bombing, a tactic they adopted from al Qaeda.
At the end of April, the Taliban said they would step up attacks against “foreign invaders” (Coalition personnel operating under the command of the International Security Assistance Force), workers from nongovernmental organizations operating in Afghanistan, and “officials and workers of the stooge Karzai regime.” The Taliban stressed that suicide and insider attacks would be used, and warned Afghans to “stay away from the bases of the invaders, their residential areas or working for them in order to avoid civilian losses.” [See LWJ report, Taliban promise suicide assaults, ‘insider attacks’ in this year’s spring offensive.]
Over the past five weeks, the Taliban and their allies, including the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, have stepped up suicide operations against the Coalition, NGOs, and Afghan institutions. There have been 13 high-profile suicide attacks, including the two attacks today in in the south, since May 23.