US attack aircraft helped Afghan border police repel an attack last night on their outpost in the east. The Haqqani Network and attached al Qaeda forces from the Shadow Army Army, or Lashkar al Zil, targeted the Afghan Border Police during a night raid.
“A group of armed rebels stormed a center of Border Police in Tanai district Saturday night and police with the support of international forces’ aircrafts retaliated killing 26 insurgents,” Shir Ahmad Kuchi, the commander of the Afghan Border Police in Khost, told Xinhua.
The airstrike killed 26 Haqqani Network and allied fighters, including a Chechen, according to a local Afghan television station.
The International Security Assistance Force confirmed the strike but did not provide information on enemy deaths.
“Afghan forces came under attack and asked for assistance and we provided it in the form of air support,” a spokesman told Reuters.
Khost and the neighboring provinces of Paktika and Paktia are strongholds of the Haqqani Network, the Taliban subgroup led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin. The Haqqani Network is in control of most of the rural areas of Khost, Paktika, and Paktia provinces, US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal.
The Haqqani Network is based out of eastern Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan. The network is also active in the Afghan provinces of Ghazni, Logar, Wardak, Kabul, Kunar, Nangarhar, Helmand, and Kandahar provinces.
The Haqqanis have extensive links with al Qaeda and with Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI. These relationships have allowed the Haqqani Network to survive and thrive in North Waziristan. The Haqqanis control large swaths of North Waziristan, and run a parallel administration with courts, recruiting centers, tax offices, and security forces.
Siraj has risen in prominence over the past few years. He is believed to be the mastermind of the most deadly attacks inside Afghanistan and to be the senior military commander in eastern Afghanistan. The US military has described Siraj as the primary threat to security in eastern Afghanistan.
Siraj is considered dangerous not only for his ties with the Afghan Taliban, but also because of his connections with al Qaeda’s central leadership, which extend all the way to Osama bin Laden. On March 25, the US Department of State put out a $5 million bounty for information leading to the capture of Siraj.
Al Qaeda has promoted Siraj to serve on the military shura, or council, a senior US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal. Siraj is known to mediate disputes between Taliban groups in Pakistan and is also credited with the group’s virtual control of the eastern Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktika, and Paktia.
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