Taliban suicide bomber kills 5 ISAF personnel in southeastern Afghanistan

The Taliban claimed credit for a suicide attack in southeastern Afghanistan today that killed three Coalition soldiers and two civilian personnel who worked for the Zabul Provincial Reconstruction Team.

According to both the Taliban and Afghan officials, the suicide bomber targeted Zabul Governor Ashraf Nasiri’s convoy in the provincial capital of Qalat. The provincial chief of police said the convoy was struck as it traveled to a school, while the Taliban said they targeted the convoy as it was headed to “a gathering of foreign invaders to visit a newly constructed hospital near the enemy PRT building.”

The International Security Assistance Force confirmed that three soldiers and “two coalition civilians” were killed “following an improvised explosive device attack in southern Afghanistan,” according to a press release. ISAF did not provide the identities or nationalities of those killed.

The US State Department later confirmed that one of its personnel, along with a Department of Defense employee and three US soldiers were killed after their convoy was attacked. Four more State personnel were wounded in the blast.

Several Afghans were wounded in the attack; the governor’s car was damaged but he escaped the attack unhurt.

The Taliban claimed credit for the attack in a statement released at Voice of Jihad, the group’s website, which is published in English, Pashto, Arabic, Urdu, and Farsi. The Taliban identified the suicide bomber as “Munir, from the same province’s Khak Afghan district,” and claimed that “13 invaders were killed and 9 others wounded whereas 1 guard of the governor was also killed with 2 others suffering injuries.” The Taliban routinely exaggerate the number of Coalition and Afghan personnel killed in Taliban attacks.

Today’s suicide attack is the second of its kind in a remote area of Afghanistan in four days. On April 3, a Taliban suicide assault team killed 44 Afghans in an attack on a courthouse in the southwestern province of Farah.

Taliban, al Qaeda maintain a presence in Zabul

Zabul province remains contested despite the surge in US forces that began in 2010. Last month, Mohammad Daoud Gulzad, the High Peace Council representative in Zabul province, claimed that “there are six districts which are not controlled by the government.” There are nine districts in Zabul. And, last September, government officials said that the Taliban were forcing the closure of most of the schools in the province.

The province borders the Pakistani province of Baluchistan, which serves as a safe haven, training center, and recruiting base for the Taliban.

Al Qaeda is also known to maintain a presence in Zabul, and ISAF has targeted al Qaeda operatives in the province. During one such raid in Zabul, on May 8, 2011, Coalition and Afghan special operations forces killed 10 al Qaeda fighters, including one from Saudi Arabia and one from Morocco, and captured a “Germany-based Moroccan al Qaeda foreign fighter facilitator.” Security forces also “found passports and identification cards from France, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia amongst ten insurgents killed during the operation.”

Zabul was even mentioned by Osama bin Laden in late 2010 as an ideal fallback position for al Qaeda operatives seeking to escape the US drone strikes in North and South Waziristan. Kunar, Nuristan, and Ghazni provinces were also considered to be safe for al Qaeda members, according to one of the documents seized from his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

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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  • mike merlo says:

    with the Afghan ‘Fighting Season’ having now come into ‘focus’ the usual tactics employed by the insurgents appears to be little changed. I suspect with election cycle now in full swing in Pakistan that country will probably receive the majority of the insurgents attention

  • James says:

    Bill it is high time to ask of this Administration, do our personnel over there have at least the resources necessary to adequately protect and defend each other?
    Depending on how the above question is answered, if need be, I may support impeachment proceedings beginning with the vice president; and if ultimately necessary, the president himself.
    Like they say, ‘we are all Usama’ when we’re all DEAD ! ! !

  • A Smith says:

    @ James
    “I may support impeachment proceedings beginning with the vice president”
    Why would you go after the VP 1st or at all? Sure, I don’t like him & I think he is not very bright or knowledgable about things that matter. Is it to gradually ratchet up the pressure?
    The VP does not call the shots, the president does. We can’t accuse the president of a crime in this case. Maybe we could charge his with a misdemeanor, whatever that means. In short being militarily incompetent. I could go for a misdemeanor.
    Knowledge necessary for the presidency should go beyond
    getting a juris doctorate and knowing how to campaign.
    It should include STEM subject & military science. there was much to be desired in the Roman Republic & Principate, but at least some knowledge of military science was expected. It looks like their time might last longer than ours.

  • John says:

    There are 11 districts in Zabul.

  • tim says:

    On what grounds would we impeach the vice president? Which high crime or which misdemeanor? It is good that they did not explicitly list them, because if a person committed one, a lawyer would say that one is not on the list and try to get their client off. But by not listing them, most people have no ideal what a high crime or misdemeanor might be.
    Is it that too many troops are dying compared to how many would die if things were done right?
    Politicians seem to have a God given right to be incompetent or uncaring (behind closed doors). Is it too many lawmakers have no ideal about military strategy & could jot care? So when they get into a shooting war, they go anti-Cruise and “make all the wrong moves”? Well poetry guides policy more than reason. They will just give you the shibboleth that “our is not to reason why, ours is to do or die”, while they jet off to Marthas Vinyard & have a glass of wine. Tennyson’s poetry has more effect on foreign policy than reason just as the poem with the lyrics give us your poor, your tired” has more effect on immigration than reason.

  • Witch Doctor says:

    @ James, you should have begun with Donald Rumsfeld. He sent us over there with almost nothing. Naked Humvees, useless firepower, resources, etc. Then move your way forward.
    The answer to your question, which should have been asked 12 years ago is no.

  • Shaman says:

    @ Witch Doctor & James
    I like your website shahamat-English.com. I checked the registration. The contact is Kandahar Afghanistan. It is very anti-everything ISAF. When the last Americans leave will it be anti American or anti Western?
    After visiting your site I wiped my computer.
    This is not the same witch doctor that posted 10 days ago. This particular person posting writes in complete, unmangled sentences.
    You go in with the military you have. The military we had in 2001 at the start of hostilities was the open bequeathed to us by the generous Bill Clinton.
    Does the term Peace Dividend mean anything?
    Procurement is based on what you can get through Congress which may or may not be influenced by the Quadrennial Defense Review. Since politicians most often work on a political economy and not reality. I have problems with Rumsfield. But I have more problems with people who disingenuously lie about American involvement in Afghanistan.
    I also have more problems with Congressmen, who try to buy the votes of citizens with their own money. Which is easier to do by cannibalizing their military. A military is not missed immediately. But it provides security. Security is like air. You can’t see it, but once it is gone, you know it.
    De Tocqueville had it right 2 centuries ago. Nothing has changed.

  • tim_bob says:

    Tim, could you please proofread your posts? I can’t tell, but you might have been making a valid point up until the moment that you started to type. I guess, if you really cared about your opinion you would have taken the time to make sure it was clear and concise, like a Tennyson poem…..

  • James says:

    In response to everyone’s criticism of my suggestion that we may need to impeach the current vice president, I will admit that I may have overshot the hoop, at least initially.
    However, I believe that Joe Biden has been a very negative influence on this president. His foolishness I feel puts all our security at risk, whether we are at home or abroad; and whether we wear a uniform or not.
    I won’t even go into the [so-called] Petraeus ‘affair’ (which I feel was a politically-motivated witch hunt right from the get-go).
    Will this latest incident turn out to be like another Benghazi? It has been claimed that the Taliban initiated the attack but how do we know that it was Al Queda all along (like it was in Benghazi). There are too many striking similarities.
    As Bill at least suggests in the article, AQ has had a seemingly keen and knowledgeable interest concerning Kunar province.
    Witch Doctor, you can not impeach a secretary of defense, he is an appointee, not an electee (as is the case of Joe Biden).
    In fact if I recall correctly, the US Constitution only provides for the impeachment and conviction of possibly two government individuals, and they are the current president and vice president.

  • Witchdoctor says:

    Shaman, my writing depends on my sleep level and device I am using. I am no politician, just a soldier dad who wants to make America a safer place.
    The website is not “mine”‘ it is that of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan. I have never found any truth to what they post, just interesting fictional propaganda. I am glad you liked it. My writing will improve when I figure out this I Pad device.
    James, your comment about impeaching the current VP was on par with mine about impeaching Rummy. No hurtful intention here, just my own, obviously uneducated thoughts.
    Never the less everyone’s input helps to make LWJ the great resource it is. We are all brothers in arms.
    Sincerely, WitchDoctor


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