Taliban launch second suicide assault in Jalalabad

“Militants” launched their second suicide assault in Afghanistan today in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar. The target of the attack was an office run by the International Committee of the Red Cross. From Reuters:

Seven staff members, believed to be the total number of foreign workers at the ICRC in Jalalabad, were rescued by Afghan police during the attack, which involved a suicide bomber and three gunmen, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

Police carried away the blood-soaked body of the guard who was shot dead at the beginning of the assault, which started when the suicide bomber detonated explosives at the ICRC gate at 5:30 p.m. (1300 GMT).

The attack was the first of its kind on the strictly neutral ICRC in Afghanistan since it started operations in the country in 1987. ICRC water engineer Ricardo Munguia was shot dead in Afghanistan in 2003.

Earlier today, the Taliban launched a suicide assault that breached the governor’s compound in the northern province of Panjshir, which has largely escaped the Taliban insurgency.

The attack in Jalalabad is also the second against international charitable organizations in Afghanistan in a week. On May 24, the Taliban killed three civilians in a complex suicide attack in Kabul against the International Organization for Migration, a UN agency, as well as the Dutch Embassy and the Afghan Police Protection Force. Afghan and Coalition security forces battled the Taliban suicide assault team for nearly 19 hours before killing the last member.

Today’s attack against the Red Cross and last week’s attack against the International Organization for Migration were likely organized by a committee run by Abdul Hafiz, a Taliban commander who previously was in US custody at Guantanamo Bay before he was released in December 2009. Hafiz promptly returned to the Taliban and now runs a committee that deals with ransoms and engagement with nongovernmental organizations.

Hafiz has experience dealing with NGOs. He is suspected of being involved in the March 2003 kidnapping and murder of Ricardo MunguĂ­a, an employee of the International Committee of the Red Cross. [See LWJ report, Former Gitmo detainee targeting Afghan charities.]

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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  • Knighthawk says:

    Given recent words from the WH regarding gitmo, I wonder if any reporter will as if the WH would care to comment on this case or in general of the known high recidivism rate of former ‘guests’ of “Club Gitmo”?

  • mike merlo says:

    ‘Hard Evidence’ that NGO’s pose a significant threat to The Taliban & other ‘like minded’ groups. This is also evidence that NGO’s have a constructively measurable presence in Afghanistan. May the good work continue. Taliban be damned.

  • wallbangr says:

    If the only security guard was killed by the opening salvo before the suicide bomber clacked off, I wonder what stopped the other 3 gunmen from inflicting worse damage on the ICRC? Did the ANA/ANP get there that quickly? Or were there more security guards?
    Whatever the case, not a good scoreboard moment for the Taliban. 3 KIA including one suicide bomber vs. one security guard KIA and no injuries to ICRC personnel. Not that it will really hurt their standing locally and in the Arab World, but attacking the ICRC seems pretty shortsighted. As usual, the accidental targeting of civilians gets more play in the media and on the Arab Street than the intentional targeting of neutral aid workers with suicide bombers. Wish I could say this was a new low for the Taliban, but hardly anyone has batted an eye.


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