The Taliban are continuing to strike at district centers in Paktika and Paktia provinces in Afghanistan along the Pakistani border. Two district centers in Paktika province and one in Paktia province were attacked late on the night of June 24 by Taliban forces. All of the attacks were repelled by the Afghan police manning the outposts. Twenty-two Taliban were reported killed in the fighting. No Afghan or US casualties were reported.
The Taliban struck at the Sarobi and Gomal district centers in Paktika, Combined Joint Task Force – 101 reported. Both Taliban attacks were conducted with small arms fire at rocket-propelled grenades. The attack on the Waze Zadran district center in Paktia province was a complex attack that involved small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades, and mortars and rockets. The Afghan police stopped each of the attacks and called for US air support to assist.
The attacks in Paktika and Paktia provinces are the latest Taliban attempts to destabilize the eastern region and overrun Afghan government centers. A large Taliban force made up of Afghan, Arab, and Chechen fighters attacked the Sayad Karam district center in Paktia on the morning of June 24. Afghan and US forces killed 16 Taliban during the attack. On June 20, US and Afghan forces killed 55 Taliban and wounded another 25 during a massed attack on a patrol in neighboring Paktika province. The next day the Taliban lobbed rockets and mortars from across the border in Pakistan, killing one Afghan woman and three children.
The provinces border the Taliban controlled tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan in Pakistan. The Taliban, led by Baituallah Mehsud in South Waziristan and the Haqqani familiy in North Wazristan, use the tribal agencies as bases to attack US and Afghan forces.
Taliban attacks in eastern Afghanistan have increased by 40 percent since last year, Major General Jeffrey Schloesser, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force-101, said during a briefing on June 24. While the attacks are “not really effective in lethality” they are “increasingly more complex,” said Schloesser. “The enemy has never won a force-on-force engagement with coalition forces.”
The Taliban strikes are “clearly designed to attack, at the strategic level, the population and to try to de-link the population of Afghanistan with their governance, as well as anybody who is here that is trying to help them,” said Schloesser. He credited the development of the Afghan police and Army with repelling the recent Taliban attacks.
The strikes are originating in Pakistan, Schloesser said, noting that the “enemy’s taking refuge and operating with what I will call some freedom of movement in the border region, and they’re using this sanctuary to reconstitute, to plan and to launch attacks into Afghanistan.”
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