The Taliban claimed responsibility for last night’s suicide assault on a member of parliament’s home in Kabul that killed at least seven people.
The Taliban said a two man suicide assault team “armed with automatic weapons, improvised grenades and explosive vests” attacked the home of Malim Mir Wali, a member of parliament from Helmand province, as an “important military meeting” was taking place. The two Taliban fighters took hostages and held off Afghan security forces for 10 hours before being killed.
Afghan officials claimed that eight people were killed in the fighting. According to a statement by Afghan President Arshaf Ghani, “two members of his [MP Wali’s] family, a number of his bodyguards and the son of another MP from Uruzgan, Obaidullah Barakzai” were killed during the Taliban siege.
However, the Taliban claimed that “up to 20 key enemy personnel were killed,” including the “head of Parliament Complaints Commission Muhammad Hanif Haneefi, Helmand Chief Justice Tayyeb Atal as well as commando troopers, police, ANA and multiple commanders of south western zone.” The Taliban’s claim cannot be confirmed.
Last night’s assault is the first high profile attack by the Taliban in the Afghan capital since Sept. 5, when a suicide team struck near the Afghan Ministry of Defense. At least 20 people, including Army and police officials, were killed during that assault.
This year, the Taliban’s high-profile attacks in Kabul have focused on military and political targets. The Taliban launched two other major suicide attacks over the summer; a double suicide bombing on June 30 targeted a bus carrying police cadets; and a suicide attack on June 20 hit a bus carrying Canadian embassy personnel.
The latest attack in Kabul took place as the Taliban has sustained an offensive in northern, southern, eastern, and western Afghanistan. The Taliban offensive, dubbed Operation Omari after its founder and first emir, Mullah Omar, has strained Afghanistan’s struggling security forces. Several districts have fallen under Taliban control over the past year. All of Helmand province is currently either controlled or contested by the Taliban.
In the past, the Taliban has assassinated key political and military leaders in an attempt to destabilize districts and provinces coveted by the group.
The attack on Wali’s home is reminiscent of the July 19, 2011 suicide assault on the home of Jan Mohammad Khan, the former governor of Uruzgan province who had served as a key adviser to then-President Hamid Karzai. Khan, Mohammad Hashim Watanwal, a parliamentarian from Uruzgan, and several other people were killed in the assault in Kabul. The assassinations of Khan in 2011 and then his nephew, Matiullah Khan, who served as Uruzgan’s police chief in 2015, contributed to the destabilization of Uruzgan province. All of the provinces’ districts are heavily contested by the Taliban. [See FDD’s Long War Journal reports, Key adviser to Karzai, member of parliament assassinated in suicide assault in Kabul, and Afghan intel captures Taliban commander involved in targeting ‘foreigners’ in Kabul.]