Coalition troops defeated a massed assault by the Haqqani Network and allied terror groups on a remote base near the border with Pakistan earlier today. Afghan officials claimed that more than 60 enemy fighters were killed during the attack.
An estimated 60 to 70 fighters from the Haqqani Network and other terror groups launched an attack on Combat Outpost Margah in the Bermel district in Paktika province.
“The insurgents were armed with heavy and light weapons,” the spokesman for Paktika province told the BBC. “In retaliation, ANSF launched their own attack. After a fierce gun battle and air support from NATO, all of the insurgents were killed.”
US officials confirmed the attack but did not provide an estimate of enemy casualties. No US or Afghan forces were killed or wounded during the fighting.
A local Afghan police official claimed that foreign fighters from Pakistan, Caucasus, Uzbekistan, and Arab countries were involved in the attack.
‘We know for sure that there are foreign fighters among those killed because we listened to their radio chatter, there were Arabic, Chechen, Uzbek and Urdu speakers,” the official told the BBC. He also said the assault was “carried out by the Haqqani Network to take revenge for several recent operations, which resulted in the killing and capture of their commanders and fighters.”
Groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the recently emerged Caucasus Mujahideen in Khorasan are known to operate in the Khost, Paktia, and Paktika area. Arab al Qaeda fighters are also known to have been killed in Bermel. In June 2011, Mahmoud Hamdan Nizal, a Jordanian al Qaeda operative whose nom de guerre was Abu Dher al Urduni, was killed while launching rockets and mortars against Combat Outpost Margah.
The Haqqani Network and allied groups have carried out four major assaults against US outposts in Bermel since 2008. In November 2008, US forces killed 16 enemy fighters as they assaulted Combat Outpost Margah.
In the fall of 2010, the Haqqani Network launched two major massed suicide assaults on COP Margah over the span of two months. On Sept. 2, US forces killed 20 Haqqani Network fighters. And on Oct. 31, US forces killed 78 Haqqani Network and foreign fighters while repelling a massive attack. The Haqqani Network was backed by fighters from al Qaeda as well as the Taliban.
More recently, on March 28, 2011, a three-man suicide assault team attacked a compound owned by the Zahir road construction company in Bermel district. The suicide team first killed a security guard at the main gate, then drove a truck packed with explosives into the company’s compound. In the massive blast, 20 road workers were killed and more than 50 were wounded.
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 Wor Mamay, Yahya Khel, Yosuf Khel, Zadran, and Ziruk; or five of Paktika’s 18 districts. The US military uses the term “foreign fighters” to describe al Qaeda and allied terror groups from outside of Afghanistan.
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