Suicide bomber kills 12, including 3 ISAF troops, in Afghan northwest

A suicide bomber killed 12 people, including three Coalition troops, in an attack at a park in the capital of the northwestern Afghan province of Faryab. The attack occurred less than two weeks after the senior leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in Afghanistan was killed by Coalition and Afghan forces in the province.

Today’s suicide attack took place in the city of Maimana as International Security Assistance Force troops visited a park “to carry out filmed interviews with local residents,” AFP reported. The suicide bomber drove up to the soldiers on a motorcycle and detonated his explosives. The ISAF troops had visited a police headquarters prior to going to the park.

Five Afghan civilians, four Afghan policemen, and three ISAF soldiers are reported to have been killed in the attacks. Dozens of Afghans, including policemen, and four ISAF troops are said to have been wounded.

The International Security Assistance Force confirmed that three of its soldiers were killed “following an improvised explosive device attack in northern Afghanistan today,” but did not give a specific location or provide the nationalities of the troops. ISAF has a light footprint in Faryab; approximately 430 Norwegian soldiers operate in Faryab and Balkh provinces.

The Taliban claimed credit for today’s attack in a statement released on their website, Voice of Jihad. The Taliban said the attack was carried out by “a lion of Islamic Emirate” known as “Mullah Abdul Ghafar, a resident of northern Saripul province.” The attack killed “at least 16 invaders [ISAF troops] and 12 puppets [Afghan security forces] while more than 30 were reported wounded, some in critical condition.” The Taliban frequently exaggerate the effects of their operations.

Although the Taliban often claim credit for suicide attacks in the north, some of these attacks are carried out by a key ally, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which is also allied to al Qaeda. Last year, the IMU said that 87 of its commanders and fighters were killed during operations in Afghanistan, including suicide attacks. The IMU claimed credit for the October 2011 suicide assault on the US Provincial Reconstruction Team base in Panjshir, which was initially claimed by the Taliban.

The northern Afghan provinces of Baghlan, Faryab, Kunduz, Sar-i-Pul, and Takhar are known strongholds of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. And in early 2011, the International Security Assistance Force noted the location of IMU-linked suicide camps in both Sar-i-Pul and Samangan. The IMU is known to fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and has integrated into the Taliban’s shadow government in the north.

Today’s suicide attack occurs just nine days after ISAF and Afghan special operations teams killed Makhdum Nusrat, the top commander for Afghan operations of the al Qaeda and Taliban-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, during a raid in Faryab’s Shirin Tagab district. Yesterday, ISAF and Afghan forces targeted the IMU’s top bomb maker in Afghanistan during a raid in Kunduz.

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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3 Comments

  • Jason Blatter says:

    Just saw the aftermath video, looks like American forces are at least WIA in this one. Thoughts and prayers for the casualties.

  • Devin Leonard says:

    It’s always sad when we lose soldiers to suicide bombers (that’s really the only way they can get us, that or IED’s). But I am sure the IMU will pay a heavy price for this when we come back for revenge!

  • Popsiq says:

    Thanks for covering this story that the ‘lamestream media’ has largely ignored.
    This was a horrific attack, compounded by the fact that somebody, on-site, was recording the aftermath.
    The folks at home wouldn’t want to see their boys looking like this.

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