Taliban kill 18 Afghans in Khost suicide attack
One day after launching a pair of suicide assaults against a US outpost and an Afghan police checkpoint in Kandahar, the Taliban sent out another suicide bomber against a US military convoy in the eastern province of Khost. Eighteen Afghans, including two policemen and children, were killed in the blast. The extent of US casualties is not yet known. From The New York Times:
At least 18 civilians, including two police officers, were killed on Wednesday by a suicide bomber who attacked an American and Afghan military convoy in this provincial capital, Afghan officials said.
Witnesses spoke of American and Afghan military casualties. A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, Maj. Martyn Crighton, said the attack had "caused some ISAF casualties," but that it was too soon to say how many.
Major Crighton said the military was aware of reports of a large number of military casualties but did not yet have details on how many were Afghan as opposed to coalition soldiers, or how many were wounded or killed. He confirmed that ISAF and Afghan soldiers were present at the scene of the attack.
The Taliban have yet to claim credit for the attack on their website, Voice of Jihad (will update once they do, it is inevitable). Given where the attack took place, it is likely that it was executed by the Haqqani Network, the al Qaeda-linked Taliban subgroup that holds sway in Khost, Paktia, and Paktika.
The last major attack in Khost took place on June 1, when the Taliban (again, likely the Haqqani Network) launched a suicide assault on Forward Operating Base Salerno. A suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives at the outer wall, and then fighters breached the wire. Fourteen Taliban fighters, seven civilian workers, and a US soldier were killed in the attack; more than 100 US soldiers were wounded. The blast from a car bomb leveled the PX and the dining facility.