US soldiers in eastern Afghanistan beat back a complex attack on a combat outpost by the Haqqani Network in Eastern Afghanistan.
The attack began as Haqqani Network fighters launched rockets and mortars at a small US base in the Zarok district in Paktika province. As the rockets and mortars were fired, a suicide bomber attempted to ram a truck packed with explosives into the combat outpost, but soldiers shot and killed the driver before he could penetrate the base. The attackers also fired assault rifles and machine guns during the assault.
Reports indicate that two US soldiers were killed during the attack. Quqnoos claimed the soldiers were killed when the suicide bomber detonated at the main gate. Other reports indicated the soldiers were killed during the mortar attack. The US military stated that two soldiers were killed during an IED attack, but it is unclear if they were killed during the attack on the base.
The US Army counterattacked with “with counter fire, close air support and attack helicopters,” according to a press release. Ten Haqqani Network fighters were killed and one was detained, the US military said. The Afghan Interior Ministry put the number of terrorists killed at 22, while some reports put the number killed at more than 30.
The large number of enemy fighters killed during the counterattack indicates that an assault team was prepared to enter the combat outpost if the suicide bomber created a breach in the wall.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, took credit for the attack. Mujahid claimed that more than 8,000 kg of explosives were used in the attack.
In the past, the Taliban, al Qaeda, and allied terror groups have conducted numerous attacks of this nature in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Yemen.
The rocket attack is designed to cause the defending troops to take cover. The suicide bomber, or in many cases, bombers, is assigned to create a breach in the outer wall so that a backup suicide bomber or an assault team can follow through to overrun the base. The Taliban have had some success in these attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and used this method to penetrate the outer gate of the US embassy in Sanaa, Yemen.
Haqqani Network and Mullah Sangeen behind the attack
Today’s attack was carried out by members of the Haqqani Network under the command of Mullah Sangeen Zadran. The assault force may have been backed up by the Shadow Army, or Lashkar al Zil, al Qaeda’s paramilitary Army that operates along the Afghan and Pakistani border.
The Haqqani Network has been behind some of the most deadly attacks inside Afghanistan, and it receives direct support from elements within Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency and military.
Mullah Sangeen is a senior lieutenant to Sirajuddin Haqqani and is the commander of the Haqqani forces in Paktika province.
Sangeen took credit for the kidnapping of a US soldier who apparently stepped away from his post at a combat outpost in Paktika on June 30. US forces in eastern Afghanistan have launched a massive manhunt for the soldier.
But the soldier may have already been moved into North Waziristan in Pakistan, where the Haqqani Network controls a large swath of territory.
Over the past month, the US military has targeted Siraj, Sangeen, and the Haqqani Network during a series of raids and airstrikes in both Afghanistan and Pakistan [see LWJ report, Coalition strikes at Haqqani Network in eastern Afghanistan].
Sangeen was almost captured during a May 28 raid on a Haqqani fortress in Paktika province, and on June 23, both Siraj and Sangeen were the targets of US Predator airstrikes inside the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of South Waziristan in Pakistan. Since June 27, the US military has killed and captured dozens of Haqqani Network fighters and a mid-level commander during raids and airstrikes in Paktika, Paktia, and Khost provinces.
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