Just hours following President Barack Obama’s departure from Afghanistan after signing a strategic agreement with President Hamid Karzai, the Taliban launched a complex suicide assault targeting a civilian compound in Kabul.
A Taliban suicide assault team, estimated at five men strong, attacked the Green Village, a private compound that is used by foreigners. Several of the Taliban fighters were reported to be wearing burkas, according to Pajhwok Afghan News.
A Taliban fighter detonated a car bomb at the main gate of the compound at about 6:15 a.m. local time. The four other fighters, wearing suicide vests and armed with assault rifles, hand grenades, and rocket-propelled grenades, then entered a parking area in the outer perimeter of the base, according to a report received by The Long War Journal.
Private security guards fought off the attackers and were then supported by Afghan security forces. The fighting lasted for four hours before the last Taliban fighter detonated his suicide vest in a building inside the compound, according to TOLONews. Four explosions were heard during the fighting.
Four civilians, including at least one child, were killed in the initial suicide attack at the gate. One Nepalese security guard was killed during the fighting. All five Taliban fighters were killed during the assault.
The International Security Assistance Force said the attack “was unsuccessful in killing any ISAF personnel but once again, resulted in Afghan civilian casualties to include a number of wounded children.”
Today’s attack was likely carried out by Kabul Attack Network, the terror alliance that is tasked with striking at key targets in and around the Afghan capital. The Kabul Attack Network is made up of fighters from the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, and cooperates with terror groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, 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 told The Long War Journal two years ago.
The Taliban claimed credit for the complex suicide assault in a statement that was released at their propaganda website, Voice of Jihad.
“The operation was planned hurriedly after finding out about Obama’s ‘surprise visit’ to Afghanistan,” the statement said.
The Taliban claimed four fighters were involved in the assault, and named the fighters as “Ahmad (Parwan province), Muhammad Raza (Kabul), Abdul Bari (Wardak) and Hameed Khan (Takhar).”
The Taliban attack was a clear message to the US and NATO that it plans on continuing to fight, and occurred just hours after President Obama’s “surprise visit” to Kabul, where he signed a strategic pact with President Hamid Karzai. Obama also addressed the nation from Bagram Air Base in Parwan province on “ending the war in Afghanistan.”
In his speech, Obama claimed that NATO and Afghan forces “broke the Taliban’s momentum” and “devastated al Qaeda’s leadership.”
Additionally, Obama said that the US and NATO are “pursuing a negotiated peace” with the Taliban.
“In coordination with the Afghan government, my administration has been in direct discussions with the Taliban,” he said. “We’ve made it clear that they can be a part of this future if they break with al Qaeda, renounce violence and abide by Afghan laws.”
The Taliban have publicly rejected these conditions in the past, most recently in an official statement that was released at Voice of Jihad on Jan. 27.
Additionally, documents seized during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound show that Taliban leader Mullah Omar was in communication with bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri on coordinating strategy in Afghanistan.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.