The Taliban launched yet another ground attack on a major Coalition military base in Afghanistan.
A Taliban force launched a coordinated attack today against Kandahar Airfield, the largest base in southern Afghanistan and a major hub for operations in the south. More than 10,000 Coalition soldiers and contractors are based at the airfield.
The attack began at about 8:00 p.m. local time when Taliban fighters moved close to the perimeter and fired mortars and rockets at the sprawling airbase. Three rockets landed inside the base; one struck a helicopter terminal and another a shopping center, Reuters reported. Four people were wounded.
The indirect fire attack was quickly followed by a ground assault by a Taliban force whose size is not yet known. Coalition helicopters are engaging the Taliban force; the fighting is ongoing.
The attack is the third major strike against the Coalition in six days, and the fourth attempt to overrun a Coalition and Afghan base in the country during the same time period. The largest assault targeted the airbase at Bagram in central Afghanistan, the largest Coalition base in the country.
On May 17, a team of three suicide bombers armed with assault rifles attacked a border police headquarters in Kandahar. The first suicide bomber detonated at the outer wall, opening a hole that allowed the two other bombers to enter the compound. Police killed the two other bombers during a gunfight that lasted nearly an hour.
On May 19, a Taliban assault team attempted to storm the US airbase in Bagram in Parwan province, but was beaten back by US forces defending the base. An estimated 30 to 40 Taliban fighters carried out the assault. During the attack, 16 Taliban fighters, including four suicide bombers, as well as a US military contractor were killed.
On May 21, Afghan police repelled a suicide assault team that attempted to overrun a police outpost in Paktika. Four Taliban fighters and a policeman were killed in the fighting.
The Taliban attacks are designed to break the will of the Coalition and demonstrate that Taliban forces can strike in the heart of Afghanistan as well as along the periphery. Earlier this month, the Taliban announced that it would begin operation Al Faath, or Victory, on May 10. The Taliban said it would target Coalition and Afghan forces, their bases, the Afghan government, security and logistics companies, and anyone supporting the “foreign forces.”
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.