One day after a force composed of Haqqani Network and “foreign” fighters was defeated while assaulting Combat Outpost Margah in Paktika province, the Haqqani Network launched a terror assault against the governor’s compound in neighboring Paktia province. From Al Jazeera:
Three Afghan policemen have been killed and several coalition troops wounded in a Taliban attack against a government official’s office in eastern Afghanistan’s Paktia province, officials said.
“A suicide bomber blew up an explosives-laden vehicle at the gate of Chamkani district headquarters and then a group of militants, probably suicide attackers, tried to enter,” said deputy provincial governor Abdul Rahman Mangal on Thursday.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message sent to journalists shortly after the initial explosion.
Master Sergeant Nick Conner, a spokesman for International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in eastern Afghanistan, confirmed the attack and said that coalition forces responded to Taliban fighters on the ground alongside Afghan forces.
“Three coalition forces wounded along with two Afghan uniformed police,” he said. “Our initial reports were that they were wounded during the initial attack.”
Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting live from Kabul, said that there were four suicide bombers in total. All were killed in the attack.
“The first attacker managed to explode an explosive-laden vehicle. Three other would-be suicide bombers were killed by police before they managed to detonate their bombs,” Smith said.
More from Pajhwok Afghan News, which said that five members of the suicide assault team were killed:
Eighteen tribal elders and five district chiefs were meeting at the compound when the attack happened, provincial council chief, Shayesta Jan Ahadi, said.
The gathering discussed names of individuals for taking part in the November 16 traditional Loya Jirga on a strategic cooperation agreement between Afghanistan and the US, witness Ashaqullah said.
For years, attacks such as the ones yesterday and today have been a rite of fall for the Haqqani Network. Rarely do these attacks succeed. The Haqqanis lose several hundred fighters each fall during these attacks. It is unknown just how many foreign fighters are killed along with the Haqqani fighters. But these appear to be acceptable losses for the Haqqanis and al Qaeda, as the groups do not seem to have a problem replenishing their forces.
Considering the history of failure at these kinds of attacks, I am not certain the Haqqani Network actually expects them to succeed (in other words, if they do succeed, that would be a bonus). And given the firepower available to US forces and the inevitable decimation of attacking forces, it is hard to believe the Haqqanis think they can actually succeed in overrunning a COP at this point.
Rather than being designed for the express purpose of overrunning a targeted location, the attacks may be aimed more at sending a message to the Afghans in the area. That message is: We can still mass out forces and attack locations of our choosing; and when the Americans leave, with their massive firepower in tow, we’ll still be here.
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