Controversial raid in Takhar sparks deadly protest

A combined ISAF and Afghan special operations raid against an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan facilitator in the northern province of Takhar has sparked a protest that turned deadly. Twelve people were killed after Afghan forces opened fire on a crowd of more than 2,000 people, some of whom were said to be armed.

ISAF said that four armed insurgents, including two women, were killed during the night raid, which took place two days ago. A suicide vest was also discovered at the compound. But local Afghans in Takhar denied claims that those killed during the raid were insurgents.

Here is the ISAF account of the raid:

The combined security force targeted a compound in Taloqan district based on multiple reports of insurgent activity in the area. The force isolated the compound in an attempt to search for the facilitator. While setting isolation, a woman wearing a chest rack and armed with an AK-47 rifle attempted to engage the force. The security force gave numerous verbal warnings, but when the armed female pointed her weapon at them, she was subsequently killed. Afterwards, a male insurgent was killed by the force as he ignored verbal commands and picked up the AK-47 assault rifle and attempted to fire on the force

Shortly after, a woman armed with a pistol rushed out of the targeted compound and displayed hostile intent by pointing her pistol at the security force. The security force engaged the female resulting in her death.

Outside the main compound, several males fled the scene when the security force approached. One male insurgent maneuvered on the assault force and attempted to engage one of the elements. When he displayed hostile intent by attempting to fire on the assault force, he was also killed.

Two additional suspected insurgents were detained after they were observed fleeing the targeted compound and attempting to evade the assault force.

During the operation, the force discovered multiple weapons including an AK-47 assault rifle, a pistol, a chest rack, and multiple 30mm rounds primed with detonation cord and rigged as a suicide bomber vest.

Below is the BBC account of the Takhar raid and the aftermath. Note that an Afghan official said the compound was known to be used by the IMU to conduct meetings, but the local police chief denied that terrorists operate in the area. Also, “Afghan authorities” claimed the raid “was conducted unilaterally,” that is, without Afghan forces. But this description is inconsistent with ISAF special operations raids, which are always conducted with Afghan commandos.

The violence appears to have begun when protesters angered over the night-time raid placed the bodies of those killed in the main square of Taloqan. Chanting “Death to America” and “Death to [President] Karzai”, they were confronted by police and security forces who opened fire as they headed towards the German base. Some of the crowd carried axes and shovels. A senior Afghan official in Takhar told the BBC that two German soldiers were injured in the unrest.

The official said the house targeted in the night raid was a meeting point for several militant Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) members. One report said that a senior IMU leader was killed.

The Afghan authorities say that the raid was conducted unilaterally by Nato, but the alliance says it was a joint operation with Afghan forces and that the Takhar provincial governor was told about it before it took place. Takhar police chief Shah Jahan Noori, who lives near the site of the raid, told the Reuters news agency that there were no insurgents in the area and that it had been based on “false intelligence”.

“This will only create distance between ordinary people, the government and its international partners,” he said.

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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