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.
- 4 Suicide Bombers Killed in Attack on Nato Base in Kabul, TOLOnews
- 4 bombers killed, 3 ISAF soldiers injured in Kabul attack, Pajhwok Afghan News
- Mujahideen attack on Camp Phoenix kills 23 US invaders in Kabul, Voice of Jihad
- Ten dead in Afghan Koran burning protests, Reuters
- 10 Killed, 81 Hurt in Kandahar Koran Protest, TOLOnews
- Afghan mob storms UN compound, kills foreigners over Koran burning, Threat Matrix
- Massive protest takes place in Kandahar, 80 killed and wounded by Police firing, Voice of Jihad
- Protesters death toll hits 55 as protest campaign against burning Holy Quran ongoing in Kandahar, Voice of Jihad
- 3 US officials among 10 invaders killed in protest against burning Holy Quran, Voice of Jihad