Coalition soldiers inside ISAF Headquarters battle Taliban fighters as they attack the US Embassy compound and ISAF Headquarters in Kabul. Video from NATO.
The Taliban launched a complex daylight attack on the US embassy and NATO headquarters in a secured area of Kabul this afternoon. While suicide bombers targeted the Kabul civil order police station and another police station a few kilometers away, fighters armed with rifles and RPGs fired at the embassy and NATO headquarters. Another suicide bomber was killed on a road near the airport.
The International Security Assistance Force confirmed that a small group of Taliban fighters is “firing from outside the compound using small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.” The Taliban fighters occupied an office building currently under construction near the embassy and ISAF headquarters to fire at the heavily fortified compounds.
The NATO military command stated that “there are no reports of ISAF casualties at this time” and forces were working with Afghan police and soldiers to battle the Taliban fighters.
“Afghan police are fighting at office building and are working to clear the building,” Sediq Sediqqi, the spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, said on his Twitter page.
“Two of the terrorists have been killed by police, two or three are still inside the building, clearance ops is on. One police killed so far,” Sediqqi wrote. “MoI helicopters are patrolling over the building” to provide air support for the police in contact.
Elsewhere in the capital, one Taliban suicide bomber attacked a building belonging to the city’s civil order police, while another bomber detonated at a regional police station near a high school. A policeman was killed in the blast at the entrance to the police station, and two civilians were wounded in the blast outside the high school.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed credit for the attack, in a statement released at Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s propaganda website.
“Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate attacked the NATO’s ISAF HQ, US embassy and local and foreign intelligence agencies, storming the facilities with rockets, hand grenades, explosives vests and heavy and small arms triggering a bloody fighting and targeting the strategic points in the heart of Kabul city,” he said.
Mujahid also claimed that “the city is in turmoil and the people are running about in terror and shock.”
The Taliban have conducted several high-profile attacks in the Afghan capital this year. On Aug. 18, a suicide assault team killed eight people at the office of the British Council. On June 28, a suicide assault team stormed the Intercontinental Hotel and killed 13 people. On June 18, a suicide assault team attacked a police station near the Interior Ministry, killing eight people. On May 21, a suicide bomber killed six people in a hospital. On April 28, a suicide bomber penetrated security at the Ministry of Defense, killing two soldiers and wounding several senior officials. On February 24, a suicide bomber detonated outside of the Safi Landmark hotel, killing two people. And on January 28, a suicide assault team killed eight people at the Finest grocery.
Today’s suicide attack, like the others in Kabul, 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.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.