Afghan police beat back Haqqani Network suicide assault

Afghan police beat back another coordinated suicide assault in a major city in the east today. Police in Khost City killed seven Taliban fighters as they attempted to assault the provincial police headquarters and a bank.

Three suicide bombers from the Haqqani Network who were armed with assault rifles launched the first wave of the attack on the police station but were gunned after being surrounded, Quqnoos reported.

Two more bombers attempted to enter the compound after the first wave failed, but they were also shot and killed by policemen.

The sixth suicide bomber detonated his car bomb short of the main gate of the station, killing only himself and wounding two policemen. The seventh bomber was killed by police outside of a bank.

Khost City was the scene of a similar attack this year. On May 12, a squad of suicide bombers assaulted government and security installations in Khost. The Haqqani Network fighters attempted to penetrate security at the installations in Khost City but were beaten back by Afghan and US security forces. The Haqqani Network also set ambushes for US and Afghan forces as they responded to the attacks from nearby bases. Eleven Taliban fighters and nine civilians were killed in the day-long assault.

The Haqqani Network is a Taliban group with close ties to al Qaeda. The Haqqanis are based in North Waziristan in Pakistan and run operations in Paktia, Paktika, Khost, and neighboring provinces.

Taliban steps up coordinated suicide assaults

Today’s suicide swarm attack in Khost is the third such attack in the east this week. One other such attack appears to have been broken up in western Afghanistan.

On July 21, suicide bombers armed with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles attacked government installations and a US base in the cities of Gardez and Jalalabad. Eight Haqqani Network and Taliban fighters and six Afghan security personnel were reported killed in the failed attacks.

Police also appear to have broken up another such assault in the western provinces of Nimroz and Herat. Afghan security forces detained seven suicide bombers, a Taliban commander and two fighters, and a cleric during raids on July 22.

Over the past two years, the Taliban attacks have become more sophisticated and more effective. The Taliban receive training for such attacks at training facilities in Pakistan’s northwest as well as in Baluchistan province. Taliban fighters train with al Qaeda and other allied jihadi groups inside Pakistan, and some Taliban fighters become members of al Qaeda’s Shadow Army, the elite paramilitary force operating in the Afghan/Pakistani border region.

The Afghan security forces have largely responded effectively in repelling such attacks once they are launched. Most of the suicide bombers have failed to reach their targets, and civilian and police casualties have been relatively low.

List of major complex and suicide attacks in Afghanistan since January 2008

July 24, 2009: Police in Khost City killed seven Taliban fighters as they attempted to assault the provincial police headquarters and a bank.

July 21, 2009: Suicide bombers armed with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles attacked government installations and a US base in the cities of Gardez and Jalalabad. Eight Taliban fighters and six Afghan security personnel were reported killed in the failed attacks.

May 12, 2009: The Taliban launched a multi-pronged suicide attack against government and security installations in Khost province, a stronghold of the deadly Haqqani Network. Eleven Taliban fighters and nine civilians were killed in the day-long assault.

April 1, 2009: Four Taliban suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers attempted to kill the Kandahar provincial council after entering the compound. Security forces foiled the attack but seven civilians and six policemen were killed during the fighting.

March 30, 2009: A suicide bomber wearing a police uniform penetrated security at a police compound in Kandahar’s Andar district and killed five policemen and four civilians after detonating his vest.

Feb. 11, 2009 The Taliban conducted a multi-pronged assault on two Afghan ministries and a prison headquarters in the capital of Kabul that resulted in 19 people killed and more than 50 wounded.

Feb. 2, 2009: A suicide bomber detonated his vest inside a training center for police reservists in the town of Tarin Kot in Uruzgan province. Twenty-one Afghan police were killed and seven more were wounded in the suicide attack.

Dec. 4, 2008: A three-man suicide team stormed the headquarters of Afghanistan’s intelligence service in Khost province. Six intelligence and police officials were killed and another seven were wounded.

Sept. 7, 2008: Two Taliban suicide bombers entered a police headquarters in Kandahar province and searched for a senior police general in charge of border security at the Spin Boldak crossing point. Six policemen were killed and 37 were wounded, including the general, in the bombings.

Sept. 6, 2008: A Taliban suicide bomber penetrated a secure government building in the southwestern province of Nimroz and detonated his vest. The attack killed six people, including Nimroz province’s intelligence chief and his 20-year-old son.

On April 27, 2008: A Taliban assault team attempted to assassinate President Karzai during a military parade outside Kabul. Two members of parliament were killed and 11 others were wounded during the barrage of automatic gunfire and mortar shells.

Jan. 14, 2008: A suicide assault team from the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network raided the heavily secured Serena Hotel. Terrorists wearing suicide vests breached the front gate with a suicide attack and then entered the hotel and began shooting civilians. A Norwegian journalist, an American aid worker, and at least five security guards were killed in the assault.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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13 Comments

  • zotz says:

    Since we can’t invade the FATA the only long-term solution is the complete militarization of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border with barbed wire, fortified bunkers, artillery, and mines, the same thing as between N. and S. Korea. Since Pakistan can’t or won’t deal with it this is the only solution.

  • Render says:

    Khost City, Afghanistan is somewhere around a dozen miles from the border with North Waziristan, Pakistan.
    They could have walked across in half a day.
    ===
    Zotz: An attempt to do a Maginot Line on the Afghan/Pak border would require millions of troops to man those fixed defenses (we don’t use AP mines that aren’t command detonated). Keeping in mind that the US hasn’t exactly done a steller job of policing its own border with Mexico…
    //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_on_Conventional_Weapons#Protocol_II:_Mines.2C_Booby_Traps_and_Other_Devices
    The current logistic system is already operating way beyond its known open source capacity. Supplying millions of garrison troops in landlocked Afghanistan is absolutely beyond any realm of possiblity.
    Besides, who says we can’t invade the FATA? The Pakistanis? They’re already “invading” the FATA themselves and not doing such a hot job of it.
    Our elected President has already clearly stated that he doesn’t have an issue with crossing that border in force (that threat was a campaign promise of his). How the Pakistanis would react to that scenario remains to be seen. But if Obama issues that order, who’s going to stop US troops from crossing the border in hot pursuit of terrorists?
    READY
    OR
    NOT,
    R

  • Minnor says:

    Sooner or later they have to fence at least where approach roads are there. If an approach road comes near 10km from border there the border needs fencing. Fences near roads and inhabited places need to be erected. Un-inhabited places can be monitored by satellite/planes. Each border checkpost should have fence of a kilometer on both sides.

  • KaneKaizer says:

    These attacks are definitely a step in a different direction from Taliban tactics years ago. The whole suicide bomber with an AK-47 idea actually took me by surprise, I was used to the rifleman and bomber being two separate enemies. When they attack their target, are they intending to fight their way to a good place to cause damage, and then blow themselves up? Or is the bomb vest only to prevent them from being captured as a last resort and possibly cause collateral damage?

  • MalangJan says:

    Afghan Police has done a better job this time. Lets keep faith in Afghan Police & Army to do better job in future as well.
    To the question that Pakistan would react to invasion inside Waziristan or other sancturay of safe heaven for terrorist, Amrican & West has the moral right to do as they see fit for their own security. Majority of Pashtun in Pakistan will welcome US troops to finish these terrorist safe heaven once for all. Pashtun have suffered because of the Pakistan Army & Taliban militants. They are the same enemy. Pakistan Army will be crazy to fight good Taliban. It is running a profitable venture by making money & as tool of forign policy viz Afghanistan & India by sponsering terrorism(Good Taliban, bad Taliban & Quetta/Waziristan Shuras etc). Pashtuns have only chance for peace if US will directly attack the terrorist safe heavens inside Pakistan. Otherwise pay another US$10 billion to Pakistan Army & result will be the same.

  • zotz says:

    A raid to kill a top al-Qaida leader is what Obama said he would do. That isn’t the same as invasion. If we did invade the FATA the Taliban would simply retreat deeper into Pakisan. The Pakistani population would side with the terrorists and we would have to take over the whole country. That would take millions of troops. If we just did an incursion and then left, it would be just like Cambodia 1970 except Pakistan has nukes and a population of 132 million. By the way, we struggled with Iraq which has a population of 22 million! Sorry Render, you’re not a strategist.

  • zotz says:

    correction: The Iraq population is 28 million.

  • Minnor says:

    Initially they should build fence where approach roads are there. That will be some handful of places i guess. Other places can be monitored by sat/planes.

  • Render says:

    Zotz: No. That is not all of what President Obama said he would do. The full text and unedited video of his statement is still available online, from numerous sources. To wit:
    “When I am president, we will wage the war that has to be won,” he told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson Center in the District. He added, “The first step must be to get off the wrong battlefield in Iraq and take the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
    “There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans,” he said. “They are plotting to strike again. . . . If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”
    You, Zotz, would do well to re-read what I wrote in my previous comment this thread, seeing as I did little more then to paraphrase President Obama’s own words regarding hit and run raids and hot pursuit. I wrote nothing about US troops invading Pakistan with the intention of occupying that nation. The word “occupation”

  • Wondook says:

    We know since 2006 (OP MEDUSA) that key supplies pass via legitimate crossing points. No fencing will stop that, couple of Afghani or Pak rupees gets you across that border with all you need. Besides: Nothing I saw in Gardez for example in the last attack looks as if it was brought inside the country, and the aqttackers who died were all buried inside Afghanistan courtesy to Paktya’s Hizbi Islami Governor. The problem has an external dimension, but let’s not loose sight of where it all stems from and that is for me the failure of the Afghan elite to secure its own country. Helping them by enabling them is one way to approach the problam, certainly commendable. But possibly one other venue is to incentivise them to do so. would be another one.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    This appears to be a promising engagement for a hitherto spotty ANP crew. Hopefully enough quality security forces are present to maximize the crash course they’ll receive from the USMC Regiment that is slated to arrive for trainier duty in several months.

  • TRV says:

    Sounds like a great job by the ANP

  • Havok says:

    Nice comments, Render.

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