A Taliban suicide bomber dressed in women’s clothing killed four French soldiers in an attack on a convoy in the central Afghan province of Kapisa today. The Taliban claimed credit for the attack.
The Taliban suicide bomber, who was wearing a burka, attacked the French troops in the district of Nirjab at about 11:30 local time, according to Pajhwok Afghan News. Five French soldiers were wounded; three are in “serious condition.” Three Afghan soldiers were also wounded.
The International Security Assistance Force said that four of its “service members died following an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan today,” but did not disclose where the attack took place or how it was carried out.
The Taliban claimed the attack, in a statement released on their propaganda website, Voice of Jihad. The Taliban said the suicide bomber was named Mutiualllah and that he was from neighboring Kabul province. They also claimed that 14 French soldiers and four “puppets,” or Afghans who work with the Coalition, were killed. The Taliban routinely exaggerate the results of their attacks.
The Taliban executed a similar suicide attack in the Tageb district in Kapisa last summer. On July 13, a suicide bomber killed five French soldiers in an attack outside of a local police commander’s home.
Today’s attack took place just one day after tribal leaders in the neighboring district of Alasai forced “foreign fighters” to leave the area as their activities were attracting a response by Afghan security forces. The term ‘foreign fighters’ is used to describe al Qaeda and allied terror groups. The foreign fighters were from “Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Chechnya, and Arab countries,” Pajhwok reported.
“The number of foreign insurgents in the district considerably rose in the winter,” the news agency stated. “But they were expelled after the tribal elders’ decision.”
France currently is responsible for security in Kapisa. The European nation plans on withdrawing nearly all of its 3,400-plus troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, two years earlier than had been planned. France began to reconsider its stay in Afghanistan after an Afghan soldier shot and killed four French troops in Kapisa on Jan. 19.
Background on insurgent activity in Kapisa province
Kapisa province has served as an insurgent bastion for several years, hosting a wide array of criminal and terrorist networks, including Taliban suicide-bomb cells, Hizb-i-Islami fighters loyal to al Qaeda-linked commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and anti-government tribal militias. Kapisa is used as a staging area for attacks, including suicide strikes, into the capital of Kabul. Hundreds of Taliban and HIG fighters are based in Kapisa.
Over the past several years, Taliban commanders Qari Baryal, Mullah Ofi, Mullah Mahmood, Qari Nejat, Ahmad Shah, Mullah Rohoullah, Khairullah Nezami, and Qari Ezmarai have been identified as influential leaders in Kapisa. Most of these commanders have been linked to al Qaeda.
Earlier this year, ISAF forces killed Qari Baryal, a Taliban commander who established the networks in Kapisa that aid strikes into Kabul (otherwise known as the Kabul Attack Network). Baryal, who was killed in an airstrike in Kunar, was in “close contact with al Qaeda leaders and facilitators.”
Shah and Rohoullah, who were killed in August 2008, facilitated the movement of “foreign fighters” into Kapisa, according to ISAF. The two commanders were behind the deadly Aug. 18, 2008 ambush against a combined French and Afghan patrol in the Sarobi district in Kabul province, just 30 miles from the Afghan capital. The joint patrol had been tasked with monitoring the suspected insurgent route that connects Kabul’s Sarobi district with the Tag Ab Valley. During the complex ambush, 10 French soldiers were killed and 21 were wounded.
And Nezami and Ezmarai, who were also killed in August 2008, also have been linked to the movement of suicide bombers and foreign terrorists into Afghanistan from neighboring Pakistan. Nejat, the district commander for Tagab, was also killed in August 2008.
For more information on Kapisa province, see LWJ reports, Kapisa province: The Taliban’s gateway to Kabul, and Coalition: Senior Taliban leaders killed in Kapisa province.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.