A Taliban suicide assault team killed a Coalition soldier in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar today before being gunned down by Afghan troops.
A heavily armed suicide assault team consisting of seven fighters attacked the International Security Assistance Force and Afghan military base in the Ghani Khel district at approximately 7:30 a.m. local time, according to Pajhwok Afghan News. The Taliban assault team detonated a suicide car bomb and then attempted to storm the base, but the remaining fighters were gunned down by security forces.
ISAF confirmed that one of its soldiers was killed “following a suicide attack by enemy forces in eastern Afghanistan Jan. 4.” The number of ISAF and Afghan forces wounded during the attack has not been disclosed.
The Taliban, in a statement released on their official website, Voice of Jihad, took credit for the attack, and claimed “25 foreign terrorist troops” were killed in the “latest in the series of martyrdom operations.” The Taliban routinely exaggerate the number of Coalition and Afghan forces killed during their operations.
The Taliban identified the members of the assault team as “Maulvi Abdul Aziz residence of Kabul province, Abdul Aziz coming from Paktia, Naseer from Kunar, Qari Waseem, Maulwi Basheer and Bilal Ahmad from Nangarhar and Doctor Khalil from Laghman provinces.”
Nangarhar is a strategic province for both the Taliban and the Coalition. The province borders the Pakistani tribal agency of Khyber, and hosts the main supply route from Pakistan.
The Taliban have launched several suicide attacks against Coalition and Afghan bases in Nangarhar. Many of the attacks targeted the main ISAF airbase in Jalalabad.
The suicide assault, or coordinated attack using multiple suicide bombers and an assault team, is a tactic used by al Qaeda and its allies, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Suicide assaults are commonly executed by jihadist groups in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Nigeria.
The Peshawar Regional Military Shura, one of the Afghan Taliban’s four major commands, directs activities in eastern and northeastern Afghanistan, including in Nangarhar province. In 2011, the Taliban appointed Sheikh Mohammed Aminullah to lead its Peshawar Regional Military Shura; he had been added to the United Nations Sanctions Committee’s list of “individuals and entities associated with al Qaeda” in 2009.
A Taliban group known as the Tora Bora Military Front operates in Nangarhar and has been behind a series of deadly attacks in the province. The Tora Bora Military Front is led by Anwarul Haq Mujahid, the son of Maulvi Mohammed Yunis Khalis, who was instrumental in welcoming Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan after al Qaeda was ejected from Sudan in 1996. Pakistan detained Mujahid in Peshawar in June 2009. He has since been released and was spotted at the funeral of Awal Gul, who was detained by US forces in 2002 and died at Guantanamo Bay on Feb. 1, 2011. Gul was a Taliban commander in Nangarhar province who had allegedly been entrusted by Osama bin Laden with $100,000 to aid al Qaeda operatives fleeing Afghanistan to Pakistan in late 2001. [See LWJ report, Tora Bora Military Front commander speaks at funeral of former Gitmo detainee.]