Taliban assault team strikes governor’s compound in western Afghanistan


Map of the Afghanistan’s 121 “key districts” and the measure of public support for the government and the Taliban, from the US Department of Defense. Click map for full view.

Afghan police defeated a Taliban suicide assault team that sought to kill the governor of Nimroz province in western Afghanistan.

A Taliban assault team made up of nine heavily armed suicide bombers launched a complex attack today on the government center and other sites in the provincial capital of Zaranj. Suicide bombers fanned out and hit the governor’s compound, the justice department, and the courthouse, Al Jazeera reported.

Police intercepted the suicide bombers and engaged in firefights throughout the city. Some of the terrorists are said to have entered the governor’s office before being killed. Eight of the nine suicide bombers detonated their vests; the other was killed in a gunfight. Three civilians, including a female member of the provincial council, were killed in the crossfire.

Over the past two years, the Taliban have made several attempts to kill top government officials in suicide attacks. On 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.

Today’s attack is the latest in a series of Taliban terror assaults in Afghanistan [see list below for the larger attacks]. Similar attacks have also taken place in Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, and India.

The Taliban have used Nimroz and neighboring Farah province as fallback havens after the US military launched three operations to clear the Taliban from Helmand province since the summer of 2009. One district in Nimroz, Khash Rod, is assessed as one of the 121 key districts in a report released by the US Department of Defense. The population of Khash Rod has been assessed as being “sympathetic” to the Taliban.

The Department of Defense’s survey paints a grim picture of public support for the government in the south. In Kandahar and Helmand, the two provinces considered to be the key to the Taliban’s power in the south, the majority is considered to be ambivalent toward the Afghan government and the Coalition, or sympathetic to or supportive of the Taliban.

Of the 11 of Helmand’s 13 districts assessed, eight of the districts are considered neutral, one is sympathetic to the Taliban, and two support the Taliban. Of the 11 of Kandahar’s 13 districts assessed, one district (Kandahar City) supported the government, three districts are considered neutral, six are sympathetic to the Taliban, and one supports the Taliban.

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

Feb. 26, 2010: A Taliban assault team killed 17 people in an attack on an Indian guesthouse in Kabul.

Jan. 18, 2010: A Taliban assault team struck at the presidential palace, the Justice Ministry, and the Central Bank. Seven Taliban fighters, three policemen, and two civilians were killed.

Oct. 24, 2009: An al Qaeda and Haqqani Network suicide assault team killed five foreign UN workers and three Afghans in an attack on a UN guesthouse in Kabul.

Oct. 8, 2009: A Taliban suicide bomber killed 17 civilians and wounded more than 80 in an attack outside the Indian embassy in Kabul.

Sept. 2, 2009: A Taliban suicide bomber assassinated the deputy chief of Afghanistan’s intelligence service and the leader of the provincial council during an attack at a mosque in Laghman province. The two Afghan leaders were among 23 people killed in the deadly attack.

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 daylong 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.

July 7, 2008: A suicide car bomber hit the outside wall of the Indian embassy in a crowded neighborhood in Kabul, killing 54 people and wounding more than 140.

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.



  • davidp says:

    Well done by the Afghan police in Zaranj. This succesful resistance shows real progress. This sort of attack is horrifying and terribly confusing for the police in the area, and they appear to have done very well.

  • MILNEWS.ca says:

    Another interesting tidbit: if we believe this account, at least some were in ANP uniforms. Inventory control team, UP!

  • Zeissa says:

    9 heavily armed, disguised and probably well-trained suicide bombers taking out only 3 civvies (one of whom was more important the average) is a very good job done by the ANP!


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