Taliban seize district in central Afghanistan, launch suicide assault in Kandahar
The Taliban launched two major attacks in central and southern Afghanistan today, overrunning a provincial center in Ghor province and launching a suicide assault on government buildings in the capital of Kandahar.
In the central Afghan province of Ghor, the Taliban overran the Char Sada district center in an attack that included upwards of 300 fighters, according to Afghan officials. The remote district is said to be under Taliban control, but it is unclear if the Taliban plan to occupy it for an extended period of time.
In a statement released on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban claimed the fighting lasted for eight hours before their forces had "successfully overrun" Char Sada. The Taliban reported that "10 puppets," or Afghan security personnel, were "killed and dozens wounded as well as 6 vehicles packed with equipment seized." One Taliban fighter was also "martyred." The Taliban's claims could not be verified.
A Taliban commander known as Mullah Mustafa also is known to operate in Ghor. The International Security Assistance Force said in 2009 that Mustafa commands more than 100 fighters and receives support from Iran's Qods Force. ISAF thought it killed Mustafa in a June 9, 2009, airstrike in a rural area in Ghor. Mustafa later spoke to the media and denied reports of his death.
Mustafa was last spotted in January 2013, when he and Mullah Abdul Rahamn, the Taliban's shadow district governor for Char Sada, ordered the beating of a couple for having an affair.
Char Sada is the second district in Afghanistan reported to have fallen under Taliban control over the past several weeks. At the end of June, the Taliban took control of Sangin district in Helmand province, and launched attacks in the neighboring districts of Now Zad, Musa Qala, and Kajaki. More than 1,000 Taliban fighters massed for the assault in Helmand.
Suicide assault in Kandahar repelled
In the provincial capital of Kandahar, the Taliban launched a coordinated suicide assault that targeted the governor's compound and police headquarters. Three suicide bombers detonated their explosives while 19 more heavily armed fighters engaged in a firefight with Afghan forces from nearby buildings for more than an hour, TOLONews reported.
Afghan officials said that 22 Taliban fighters, four policemen, and five civilians were killed during the fighting. Kandahar's chief of police claimed that Pakistanis may have been fighting in the ranks of the Taliban.
The Taliban claimed today's attack in Kandahar City, and described it as a "synchronized double martyrdom attack" in a statement released on their website, Voice of Jihad. The group claimed that 11 fighters were involved in the attack on the police headquarters, and another seven in the assault on the governor's building.
Today's suicide assault in Kandahar is the third suicide operation executed by the Taliban in the past three days. Yesterday, the Taliban killed 16 people, including four Czech soldiers, in a suicide attack in Parwan province. And on July 7, a suicide bomber killed three soldiers in an attack on a bus in Herat province.