80 Haqqani Network, ‘foreign fighters’ killed in raid on Paktika camp

Paktika-encampment-raid-bunker.jpg

A bunker at the Haqqani Network training camp in the district of Sar Rowzah District in Paktika province. ISAF photo.

More than 80 Haqqani Network fighters, including several “foreign fighters,” have been killed during an operation in eastern Afghanistan that targeted a training camp.

Afghan officials said that the death toll in the operation in the Sar Rowzah district in Paktika province, which was first reported yesterday by the International Security Assistance Force, has risen to 80.

“The combined operation of Afghan and international troops have left 80 armed militants dead in Paktika province over the past three days,” a statement released by the provincial administration said, according to Xinhua.

Several “foreign fighters” were among those killed during the fighting, according to a report by Afghan Ariana TV. The US military uses the term ‘foreign fighters’ to describe members of al Qaeda and other terror groups operating in Afghanistan.

US military officials contacted by The Long War Journal said several of those killed were indeed “foreign fighters,” but the officials would not provide the identities or numbers of those killed. The vast majority of those killed were Haqqani Network fighters based in Pakistan’s tribal agency of North Waziristan. The Haqqani Network, which is supported by Pakistan’s military and intelligence services, maintains a safe haven in North Waziristan, and uses the tribal agency to stage attacks into Afghanistan as well as shelter and support al Qaeda leaders and fighters.

Yesterday, ISAF announced the operation against what it described as a Haqqani Network “encampment” and “training camp,” and initially claimed 50 fighters were killed during the day-long assault. ISAF said the “training camp” was used as “a staging area for Haqqani and foreign fighters” to conduct attacks throughout Afghanistan. [For more information the Paktika raid, see LWJ report, ISAF, Afghan troops strike Haqqani Network ‘encampment’ in east.]

ISAF released several photographs of the aftermath of the raid. The ISAF photos showed two crude bunkers as well as several images of the weapons seized during the operations.

Paktika province serves as a safe haven for the Haqqani Network, a Taliban subgroup with close ties to al Qaeda. Paktika province is run by Mullah Sangeen Zadran, who is the shadow governor. Mullah Sangeen is a senior lieutenant to Siraj Haqqani, the military commander of the Haqqani Network who serves on the top councils for al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Al Qaeda and allied groups maintain a presence in Paktika province, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal. US military press releases document the presence of al Qaeda and “foreign fighter” cells in the districts of Bermel, Sar Rowzah, Wor Mamay, Yahya Khel, Yosuf Khel, Zadran, and Ziruk; or seven of Paktika’s 18 districts.

Al Qaeda fighters are known to have been killed while fighting in Paktika. Most recently, in June, al Qaeda announced the death of Mahmoud Hamdan Nizal, a Jordanian who was known as Abu Dher al Urduni. Nizal was killed while attacking COP Margah, his martyrdom statement claimed.

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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12 Comments

  • Soccer says:

    Bill, can you provide a link to the photos? I missed the link, and I’d love to see them, thanks.
    I’d also love to see the pictures because the Taliban claimed that the camp wasn’t even harmed and that they only lost 4 fighters and killed almost 200 ISAF and Afghan forces. So I’d like to see pictures of the aftermath to refute their propaganda.

  • Soccer says:

    Nevermind, I found them.
    The Taliban are pure liars.
    //www.flickr.com/photos/isafmedia/page6/

  • Charles says:

    what’s strange about this operation is that its odd for taliban aq to concentrate in such numbers. their best strategy and one that they seem to have stuck to recently has been to avoid any big engagements with allied troops. rather they look for big TV hits. stuff that makes the headlines but doesn’t risk a lot of men.

    why would they have 80 or more men in one place. training oh yeah training.

    on the other hand if you look at the other side of the border in pakistan–there is the story below. (except that presumably the taliban mentioned in the story below are not part of the Haqqani Network)

    //gulfnews.com/news/world/pakistan/13-taliban-killed-in-clashes-with-militia-near-afghanistan-border-1.842125

    13 Taliban killed in clashes with militia near Afghanistan border

    Parachinar: An anti-Taliban group killed 13 militants in clashes in north-western Pakistan near the Afghan border, a government official said yesterday.

    Several members of the militia and insurgents were also wounded in the gunbattles yesterday and on Friday in the Kurram tribal region, said local administrator Noor Alam Khan.

    Encouraged by Islamabad, tribesmen recently formed the militia to kill or evict Taliban militants and their supporters from the region. They have killed 25 insurgents in clashes this week.

    The Pakistani military has also carried out attacks against the Taliban who are hiding in the area after escaping last year’s offensive in the nearby Orakzai tribal region.

    The Pakistani Taliban have links to the insurgent movement fighting foreign forces and their local allies in neighbouring Afghanistan, but separate goals. They are a sworn enemy of Pakistan and are focused on destabilising the country’s US-allied government through violence.

  • sports says:

    Cool…were any ISAF killed or injured?

  • Max says:

    May these numbers increase…

  • Bungo says:

    Does anyone know what was in all of those plastic bags? Gunpowder? Explosive material/ammonium nitrate? Food? Clean underwear?

  • Joe says:

    It looks like they have four or five old bolt action rifles in this picture, no sign of scoped sights either. I guess the one on the left is a Type 99 Mauser, but I can’t really tell. Honestly it does not look like much of an arms cache for 80 dead guys though.
    //www.flickr.com/photos/isafmedia/5963740832/in/photostream/lightbox/

  • James says:

    Joe, with all due respects for your comments and link provided, notice the name of the file:
    20110710_SOTG_0435.jpg
    I believe based on that name, the pic was most likely taken on or about July 10, 2011.

  • scott says:

    MSG Benjamin A Stevenson, USASF was one of the cuasualties. Sad really. He was my girlfriends cousin. 2 years from retirement.

  • Neonmeat says:

    @ Scott
    Truly a tragedy but his actions and sacrifice have saved scores of Afghani and ISAF lives that would have been taken if these fanatical killers were allowed to live. My thoughts go out to his family and friends.

  • Infidel4LIFE says:

    Why so many in one place? Stupidity? Maybe. They were “foreign fighters” huh? Wow thats 80 men gone. Good.

  • sports says:

    I just watched video on CNN about this incident and Barbara Starr just answered my earlier question…there was one US casualty, Master Sgt Stevenson was hit near the end of the assault and died of his wounds while being transported. This was his 10th deployment.

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