Taliban attacks kill 12 Afghan policemen

The Taliban killed 12 Afghan policemen in a pair of attacks in the south and east today. One of the attacks was an assassination attempt against the governor of Kandahar.

In the larger of the two attacks, 10 Afghan policemen were killed by a roadside bomb in the Chak district in Wardak province. The Taliban targeted a convoy of Afghan Local Police that was accompanied by the Chak district police chief, who was not injured in the blast, according to Pajhwok Afghan News.

The Taliban claimed credit for the attack, in a statement released on their propaganda website, Voice of Jihad. Surprisingly, the Taliban underestimated the number of deaths, claiming that “7 puppets … along with their commander” were killed in the blast. The Taliban usually exaggerate the effects of their attacks.

The Afghan Local Police are locally raised forces that have been established to help villages resist intimidation and to prevent the Taliban from creating safe havens in key districts. Over the past several months, the Taliban have been targeting members of the Afghan security forces, particularly members of the Afghan Local Police, as well as anyone who cooperates with ISAF forces [see LWJ report, Taliban suicide bombers kill 17 in attacks in south, west].

In the southern province of Kandahar, a pair of Taliban fighters penetrated security at the governor’s compound in Kandahar City, but were stopped before reaching their target. The two Taliban fighters and two policemen were killed in a clash before the fighters could reach the governor’s office. The Taliban took credit for the attack and claimed that eight of the governor’s bodyguards had been killed in the firefight.

The Taliban had previously scouted the compound by sending one of their fighters to petition the governor to release his brother from custody, according to Pajhwok Afghan News.

“One of the attackers, identified as Javed, had visited the governor’s office a week back with an application seeking the release of his detained brother. But it seems he wanted to examine the compound for the attack,” Governor Tooryalai Weesa told Pajhwok.

“In his application, Javed wrote: ‘My brother, Abdullah, has been arrested by foreign troops two years ago from their house and shifted to the Bagram airbase. We support the peace process and we are ready to offer our land as guarantee in return for the release of my brother under the reconciliation program me,'” the news agency reported.

In 2010 and 2011, the Taliban conducted a string of high-profile assassinations throughout the country. Governor Weesa is said to have been targeted nine times over the past several years. The last major assassination in Kandahar took place on Jan. 12, when Sayed Fazuldin Agha, the governor of Kandahar’s Panjwai district, was killed. Agha has been credited with being instrumental in getting Taliban fighters to reconcile.

Today’s attacks took place just two days after the Taliban killed four policemen and captured 16 more in the Faizabad district in the northeastern province of Badakhshan. The Taliban took credit for the attack, and claimed they had killed 20 policemen and captured 20 more.

The governor of Badakhshan stated that the attack was carried out by fighters from “Central Asian countries,” according to TOLONews. This is likely a reference to the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The IMU is known to operate in Faizabad; on March 8, two IMU leaders were captured along with an “insurgent” during a raid in the Faizabad district, ISAF reported.

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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