The Taliban claimed credit for a suicide attack today at a market in a secure area of Kabul that is known to be frequented by foreigners.
A Taliban suicide bomber exchanged gunfire with Afghan police and appears to have detonated a hand grenade before detonating his vest at the Finest grocery in the Afghan capital. Eight people, including three foreigners, were killed and six more were wounded in the blast.
The supermarket is located in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood of Kabul, a high security area of the city where many embassies and hotels are situated.
The Taliban’s spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said that foreigners, including the chief of Xe, the security firm formerly known as Blackwater, were the targets of the attack, The Washington Post reported.
“We claim responsibility for the attack, and it was carried out at a time when foreigners were shopping, including the head of a security company,” Mujahid told Reuters.
Today’s suicide attack was likely carried out by the Kabul Attack Network, which is made up of fighters from the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, and cooperates with terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and al Qaeda. Top Afghan intelligence officials have linked the Kabul Attack Network to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate as well. The network’s tentacles extend outward from Kabul into the surrounding provinces of Logar, Wardak, Nangarhar, Kapisa, Ghazni, and Zabul, a US intelligence official recently told The Long War Journal.
The Kabul Attack Network is led by Dawood (or Daud) and Taj Mir Jawad, military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal. Dawood is the Taliban’s shadow governor for Kabul, while Taj Mir Jawad is a top commander in the Haqqani Network. In the US military files recently released by WikiLeaks, Taj Mir Jawad is identified as a top Haqqani Network leader.
ISAF and Afghan forces have been targeting the Kabul Attack Network since the spring of 2010 in an attempt to prevent high-profile attacks in the capital. The Taliban are seeking to create the appearance of instability and shut down the operations of foreign companies operating in the capital, a US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal. The attacks also allow the Taliban to show they can reach into the heart of Afghanistan despite ongoing security operations in the Taliban heartlands of the south.
Counting today’s bombing, four Taliban suicide attacks have been carried out in Kabul since operations against the Kabul Attack Network intensified last year. On July 18, 2010, a suicide bomber killed four civilians at a medical clinic; on Aug. 10, a suicide assault team killed two security guards outside a guest house used by foreigners; and on Dec. 19, suicide bombers killed five soldiers outside a recruiting facility.
Last year’s suicide attacks were far less deadly than attacks in previous years, however, which included the January 2008 suicide assault on the Serena hotel, the February 2009 assault on Afghan ministries, and the July 2008 and October 2009 suicide attacks against the Indian embassy.
Explosion in Kabul diplomatic district kills at least 8, injures 6, The Washington Post
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