Taliban suicide bombers strike in Wardak

The Taliban killed 10 Afghan civilians and two policemen, and wounded dozens more, in a double suicide attack today just outside a US base in the Sayyidabad district in Wardak province. From AFP:

Ten civilians and two police were killed and dozens more were wounded Saturday in a Taliban twin suicide attack targeting a US-run military base in central Afghanistan, officials said.

The first bombing was carried out by a militant on foot, followed by a huge blast from a truck bomb that destroyed much of a local bazaar near the military outpost in Wardak province’s Sayedabad district, police said.

“The number of wounded is so high that it can hardly be counted. Lots of people have been wounded and much of the Sayedabad bazaar has been destroyed,” Wardak police spokesman Abdul Wali told.

Ghulam Farouq Mukhlis, the provincial public health director, told that at least 43 civilians were admitted to local hospitals. Ten people were evacuated to the capital Kabul for “serious injuries”, Mukhlis added.

The International Security Assistance Force confirmed the attack in Sayyidabad. From the ISAF press release:

A number of Afghan civilians were killed and wounded by vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices near a combined Afghan National Security Force and International Security Assistance Force base in Sayyidbad district, Wardak province today.

The attack did not breach the base’s perimeter and there were no follow-on enemy actions. The explosions caused significant damage to nearby Sayed Abad district center and inflicted casualties on the Afghan civilian population there, further proof of the insurgency’s utter disregard for human life and civil order in this country.

The double suicide attack took place just six days after Afghan police claimed to have captured Mualem Anzargul, the Taliban’s shadow district governor for Sayyidabad.

Al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and the Haqqani Network are all known to operate in Wardak province. The presence of foreign terror cells has been detected in the districts of Maidan Shah, Sayyidabad, and Tarnek Wa Jaldak, or three of the province’s eight districts, according to ISAF press releases that have been compiled by The Long War Journal.

An Afghan newspaper reported in early June that three al Qaeda operatives were killed in an ISAF airstrike in Sayyidabad.

Sayyidabad a dangerous district

Last summer, Sayyidabad was the scene of several high-profile attacks by the Taliban and allied groups. The Taliban have been in control of the Tangi Valley, which runs through Sayyidabad, since the withdrawal of US forces from Combat Outpost Tangi in the spring of 2011. US troops turned over the base to the Afghan Army, which immediately abandoned it. The Taliban later released a videotape that showed hundreds of fighters and senior Taliban leaders massing at the abandoned base and conducting a tour.

The Taliban shot down a US Army Chinook helicopter in Sayyidabad on Aug. 6, 2011. Thirty-eight US and Afghan troops, including 17 US Navy SEALS from the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, were killed in the crash.

And on Sept. 10, 2011, the Taliban detonated a massive suicide bomb outside of Combat Outpost Sayyidabad, killing four Afghans and wounding more than 100 people, including 77 US soldiers. US commanders later blamed the attack on the Haqqani Network, a powerful Taliban subgroup closely allied with al Qaeda.

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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