US troops defeat Taliban suicide assault on Kabul base

US troops beat back a suicide attack on a military base in the Afghan capital of Kabul today as violent protests over the burning of a Koran continue in the southern city of Kandahar.

The suicide bombers were reported to have been dressed in burkas and were armed with assault rifles. Two members of the four-man suicide assault team detonated their vests outside the western gate of Camp Phoenix, apparently in an attempt to clear the way for two of the other suicide bombers to enter the base. The other two attackers were gunned down by US soldiers guarding the base, Afghan officials said.

One Afghan civilian was killed and three US soldiers were wounded in the failed attack.

In a statement released on their propaganda website, Voice of Jihad, the Taliban claimed credit for the attack. The Taliban said seven fighters assaulted the base “with explosive vests and heavy and arms fire,” and battled the US troops at Phoenix for three hours. “As many as 23 US invading soldiers including their officers were killed and several more wounded,” the Taliban claimed. In their statements, the Taliban often wildly exaggerate casualties.

Today’s suicide assault took place as protests in the cities of Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar against the burning of a Koran in Florida have turned violent.

Yesterday, thousands of Afghans, incensed after a sermon at a mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif, overran security at a United Nations compound. Five Nepalese security guards and three UN workers were killed. Five Afghans were also killed during the riot.

Today, in Kandahar, 10 Afghans were killed after a large crowd gathered in front of the provincial police headquarters. Some people were shot, and others were beaten or stoned to death. According to Reuters, some members of the crowd shouted “long live the Taliban” and “death to America” while waving the white flag of the Taliban.

The Taliban have denied any involvement in the violent protests in Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar, but have praised the deadly attacks, which they said were carried out by “angry Afghans” and “civilian protesters.” The Taliban are attempting to capitalize on the protests and have released three statements on the subject today at Voice of Jihad.

Background on the Kabul Attack Network

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.

The attacks inside Kabul were directed by Talib Jan, a Taliban commander who has been imprisoned in the Pul-e-Charkhi prison for the past three years.

“From inside the Pul-e-Charkhi prison he was appointing people and giving them targets and instructions: do this, and do that,” Lutfullah Mashal, a National Directorate of Security spokesman said on Feb. 9, according to The New York Times. “Most of the terrorist and suicide attacks in Kabul were planned from inside this prison by this man.”

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 core of Afghanistan despite ongoing security operations in the Taliban heartlands of the south.

The Taliban have carried out six suicide attacks in the capital since operations against the Kabul Attack Network intensified last year. Three of those attacks have taken place since the end of January.

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.


Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • sports says:

    While I think it was immature and pathetlic to burn the Koran I think its even more despicable and pathetic that the lunatic religious leaders would promote the violent protests and then send outmanned people to their deaths.
    I keep thinking that because of the high rate the Taliban leaders are sending people to their certain deaths that sooner or later the leaders will have nobody else to recruit and perhaps they’ll have to don these vests.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    The suicide bombers were reported to have been dressed in burkas and were armed with assault rifles.
    Ah, yes: “Dressed in burkas”. More courage from the “fearsome warriors” certain Talib sympathizers are lately blathering about on this message board.

  • kp says:

    Initial reports had one person captured by US forces. Was that not true?

    One might account for the exaggerated claims by the Taliban by the lack of anyone from the team available to write an accurate after-action report. 😉

  • Charu says:

    The burning of the Koran was just a convenient excuse. Sentiments against this puerile action in Florida had been whipped up for some weeks in Pakistan with Christians there having had to preemptively condemn this relatively obscure pastor’s declaration to defile the Koran. You will note that there was no reaction (to date) in the centers of Islam in Arabia or Persia. This has Pakistani fingerprints all over, and will be used by its fifth-columnists in Afghanistan (and in India) as an excuse to violently riot again after Friday “prayers”.
    As for the Taliban hiding under burkhas, it is nothing new under the sun – insurgents in Algeria escaped under the burkha in The Battle of Algiers, and in Pakistan the mullah of the Red Mosque was caught trying to flee the seige in a burkha. Its frequent use may explain why Islamic fanatics push so hard to cover up their women in this primitive garb; it’s a useful cover for terrorism especially against infidels.

  • TLA says:

    kp – The Taliban report you would like to see would probably tell everyone that the US troops were running scared at the sign of the rampant burquees and purposefully blew up upteen Afghan civilians ™ is their confusion.

  • Soccer says:

    ISAF press releases are entirely more valid than Insurgent press releases.
    ISAF is a trusted international organization that extensively documents operations through news, photos, videos, etc. I have seen the Taliban press releases before, they say things like “95 US troops killed in mujahideen assault” and things like that. They never provide evidence of their operations or at least show a source where they got that information/numbers from. ISAF does, and that’s why it is always better to trust them because at least they show what they are doing.
    They also mix up the numbers, so it could be 95 or 59. More proof that they are lying. When I ask them to provide proof of their claims, they usually churn out a Quranic verse about how hypocrites and disbelievers don’t believe and blah blah blah….

  • crusader says:

    sometimes when i am grumpy about the degenerating and humiliating treatment of men in the “entertainment” industry i feel like a talib sympathizer.
    the talib at least do not go with spending their entire life humiliating other men like we do in the states…
    how should i reply to you?
    i want us to win and not the talib as i am not a talib.
    good enough?


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