The Taliban launched two suicide assaults in Afghanistan today, one at the international airport in Kabul, and another in the capital of the southeastern province of Zabul.
In Kabul, a team of seven suicide bombers took control of a building under construction that is just outside Kabul International Airport. The Taliban fighters lobbed rocket-propelled grenades at the airport complex; two hangars were damaged and two civilians were wounded. The attack also forced a temporary closure of the airport. Police shot and killed five members of the Taliban assault team. From Al Jazeera:
“There were seven assailants…two (suicide bombers) died detonating themselves and five others were killed in fighting,” Mohammad Ayoub Salangi, chief of Kabul police, said.
“There have not been any casualties to the security forces, and we have not received any report of civilian casualties so far,” he said.
Loud explosions and bursts of small-arms fire were heard during the attack, with the US embassy sounding its “duck and cover” alarm and its loudspeakers warning that the alarm was not a drill.
Further south, a six-man suicide assault team attempted to storm the provincial office in Qalat, the capital of Zabul. Policemen gunned down five of the attackers after the first suicide bomber blew up a truck packed with explosives at the main gate to the governor’s compound. Fifteen civilians and three policemen were wounded. From Pajhwok Afghan News:
The coordinated attack began around 11am when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car at the entrance to the provincial council office, allowing other assailants to enter the compound, the deputy governor, Mohammad Jan Rassoulyar, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
There were six attackers and all of them were killed by police in a short period of time, he said.
Two members of the council and some policemen were among 18 people wounded in the attack, deputy police chief Col. Ghulam Jilani Farahi said.
Neither attack can be considered a success in military terms, but the Taliban may be more interested in the propaganda effects caused by such operations. It is always assumed that the Taliban are seeking high body counts in such operations, but that probably isn’t the primary motivation for such attacks. It is more likely that the Taliban are directing their message to the Afghan people and the international community, and the message is that the group is willing be persistent and to sacrifice in order to achieve its goals. The Taliban are showing that while the US and NATO are winding down operations in Afghanistan, the Taliban are there for the long haul.
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