The Taliban have claimed credit for a suicide assault today on an Afghan Army base in Kapisa, where jihadists have been making inroads since Coalition forces withdrew from the central province.
A suicide assault team attacked the Afghan National Army base in Tagab district early in the morning, at 6:30 a.m., the official spokesman for Kapisa province told Xinhua. A suicide bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives at the main gate in an attempt to breach the perimeter and allow the assault team to enter the base.
“They failed to enter pass the first gate as the army soldiers responded to the attack, killing five militants,” the spokesman said. He estimated that 15 Taliban fighters were involved in the assault, and claimed that 10 Taliban fighters who were wounded during the fighting were captured. Two Afghan soldiers were also killed during the fighting.
The Taliban took credit for the attack in a statement released on their website, Voice of Jihad.
“Early this morning a courageous Mujahid of the Islamic Emirate rammed his explosive-packed vehicle into the base of the combined NATO invaders and the puppet forces in Tagab district of Kapisa, killing and wounding a large number of the foreign terrorist and their lapdogs,” the Taliban claimed. No ISAF troops are reported to have been killed in Kapisa today.
The Taliban also claimed they overran “two of the puppets’ [Afghan security forces] outposts in Tagab district of the province, killing and wounding about 2 dozens of the puppets.”
Today’s attack in Kapisa took place just days after the governor said that the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and the Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin are in control of areas of the Tagab and Alasai districts.
“The government has control over some parts of the Tagab and Alasai districts, but the rest are controlled by the insurgents and Haqqani Network,” Governor Mehrabuddin Safi told TOLOnews on Aug. 23. “These groups terrorize the locals and extort money from them,” he continued.
Abdul Momin, the Chairman of Kapisa’s Provincial Peace Committee, which is tasked with negotiating with the Taliban, backed up the governor’s statements, and also said al Qaeda maintains a presence in the province.
“The activities of al Qaeda, the Taliban, Haqqani [Network] and Hizb-i-Islami [Gulbuddin] in the area are preventing people from joining the peace process by threatening them. It is important that the government takes immediate steps and clear the militants from the area,” Momin told TOLOnews.
Momin also accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate of supporting jihadists in Kapisa and, and claimed that Pakistani military hospitals are being used to treat Taliban and other jihadist fighters who are wounded while fighting in Afghanistan.
Tagab district is a known safe haven for Taliban and Hizb-i-Islami fighters in Kapisa province [for more information on insurgent groups in Kapisa, see LWJ report, Taliban suicide bomber kills 4 French soldiers]. In June 2012, the Taliban conducted two suicide attacks in Kapisa over the course of nine days.
The Qari Baryal Group is known to operate in the province and throughout central and northeastern Afghanistan. Qari Baryal was a former Hizb-i-Islami insurgent commander who was based in Kapisa province. His network, consisting of approximately 150-200 men, is known to facilitate the movement of weapons, explosives, and would-be suicide bombers from the Pakistan border to Kabul. His group helped plan and coordinate numerous attacks against military bases in Kabul and Parwan provinces, including the sprawling Coalition airbase at Bagram. In January 2011, NATO forces claimed that Qari Baryal was killed along with his contingent during an air strike in the Pech Valley of Kunar province. ISAF described Qari Baryal as an “al Qaeda-associated Taliban leader.” [For previous reporting about Qari Baryal and his network in Kapisa and Kunar, see LWJ report, Kapisa province: The Taliban’s gateway to Kabul.]
French troops were formerly based in Kapisa, but in June 2012 France transferred control of the province to Afghan security forces. In December 2012, France withdrew its combat forces completely from Afghanistan, two years ahead of schedule, after French troops were targeted in suicide bombings and other attacks.
Kapisa has also been the scene of green-on-blue attacks, in which Afghan security forces attack Coalition personnel. There have been three such attacks in Kapisa. In the latest such attack, in March, a group of Afghan soldiers turned on US troops in Kapisa, killing a Coalition contractor and wounding three US soldiers.