Suicide assault team attacks police compound in Afghan east

A Taliban suicide assault team stormed a police station in the eastern Afghan province of Khost today, killing six people, including soldiers, policemen, and a civilian.

A heavily armed four-man Taliban suicide team dressed in Afghan police uniforms entered the traffic police headquarters in the heart of the city of Khost at about 4:30 AM local time. Afghan and US security forces surrounded the building and clashed with the Taliban fighters for 10 hours, according to TOLO News.

Two of the suicide bombers detonated their vests, and two others were shot and killed. Three Afghan policemen, two Afghan soldiers, and a civilian were killed during the fighting. Afghan security forces also disabled a car bomb near the building.

The Taliban claimed credit for the attack in a statement released on the propaganda website, Voice of Jihad. “A group of martyrdom-seeking Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate attacked the Police Headquarter, a training academy where some 1500 soldiers are being trained and the traffic building,” the Taliban said. The terrorists were “armed with heavy and small machine guns, rockets, and explosives.”

Khost province is a haven for the Haqqani Network, a Taliban subgroup led by Sirajuddin Haqqani and his father, Jalaluddin. The Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, led by Guldbuddin Hekmatyar, also maintains a strong presence in the Sabari district in Khost.

Today’s attack is the latest in the Taliban’s so-called Badar spring offensive. Yesterday, a Taliban suicide bomber killed six people in the cafeteria of a Kabul hospital used by Afghan forces. Other major Taliban attacks this week include an ambush that killed 35 road workers and guards in Paktika; a suicide attack that killed 13 people in Nangarhar; and an IED attack that killed four ISAF troops in the south.

Background on the Taliban’s spring offensive

The Taliban are seeking to roll back Afghan and Coalition gains made in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar over the past year, as well as to reinforce the perception that Taliban forces can strike in all areas of Afghanistan. The Taliban are also trying to break the will of the Afghan security forces as well as intimidate local Afghans.

In their announcement of the Badar offensive, the Taliban said the primary targets would be “foreign invading forces, members of their spy networks and (other) spies, high-ranking officials of the Kabul Puppet Administration, both military and civilian, members of the cabinet, members of the parliament, Heads of foreign and local companies working for the enemy and contractors.” The Afghan High Peace Council was also singled out.

The Taliban said Badar would focus on “military centers, places of gatherings, airbases, ammunition and logistical military convoys of the foreign invaders in all parts of the country.” Their tactics would include “group and martyrdom seeking attacks,” or suicide attacks and assaults; “group offensives,” or massed assaults; “city attacks,” ambushes, and IED attacks.

The Taliban also said that “strict attention must be paid to the protection and safety of civilians during the spring operations by working out a meticulous military plan.”

The Taliban maintain they have no shortage of suicide bombers to carry out attacks. In April, a commander in the Pakistani Taliban claimed that more than 1,000 suicide bombers train at camps in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan.

The Pakistani government refuses to strike the terror groups in North Waziristan despite the known presence of al Qaeda and other foreign terrorist organizations in North Waziristan, and requests by the US that action be taken against these groups. The Pakistani military has indicated that it has no plans to take on Hafiz Gul Bahadar, a senior Taliban commander in North Waziristan, or the Haqqani Network, which is also based there. Bahadar and the Haqqanis are considered “good Taliban” by the Pakistani military establishment as they do not carry out attacks inside Pakistan. Yet Bahadar, the Haqqanis, and other Taliban groups openly shelter groups that carry out attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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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2 Comments

  • Marlin says:

    There is no doubt that the Taliban’s spring offensive is concentrating on the spectacular attack, trying above all else to keep themselves in the news and hoping that portrays them as potent force. However, as a long time reader and watcher of the news in Afghanistan, it certainly has seemed to me that ever so slowly the Afghan forces have been gaining competency along with increased size and that was starting to make a real difference.
    Consequently, I was heartened to read this article by Max Boot earlier today.

    Mike O

  • Marlin says:

    Even Carlotta Gall is now willing to acknowledge the small, but significant, postive steps forward being accomplished in Afghanistan. And she is even willing to say it comes at the direct expense of the Taliban.

    But recently Zabul, in southeastern Afghanistan, has become important for another, better reason: as a small but overlooked corner of the Afghan war that offers a glimpse of what a stable future might look like as Afghans take over their own security and administration by 2014.
    Afghan Army battalions have deployed in the districts of Zabul, and are the first in the country to operate independently. They are emerging as a real authority acceptable to local people and as an alternative to both the Taliban and international forces, which are still received ambivalently. Increasingly, they are handling security, relations with the people and even dispute resolution.
    […]
    The success of the Afghan Army in getting out among the people has shifted the security environment. As people have warmed to the Afghan forces, the Taliban found themselves less welcome and moved away.

    New York Times: A Slice of Afghanistan Well Secured by Afghans

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