Taliban launch suicide assaults in Kabul, Qalat

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.

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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  • Jeff Edelman says:

    Have there been any studies done on the long term effects “suicide” bombers have on the terrorists’ organizations? Also, this strategy is one of desperation as the terrorists know they cannot win a straight-up war with ISAF. Propaganda is the only hope they have. And, it is only successful to the degree that mainstream media, outside of Afghanistan, report it. What if this component of their strategy was removed?

  • blert says:

    My ‘take’ is that these are not intended as propaganda affairs at all.
    Rather, the ISI/ Taliban is trying to find a tactic or gambit that is rewarding.
    If found, it, the tactic, will be massively scaled up, with indoctrinated jihadis queued up in the FATA thrown onto the fire.
    It’s a sure bet that all of these fruitless attacks are observed by the opfor overwatch elements.
    Subsequently, they engage in after action analysis; and give it another go.
    A century ago the Western Front scarcely moved while millions died — in one big brilliant push after another. These mindless offensives only stopped when the powers ran out of obedient troops.
    (In 1917 both the German and French armies almost mutinied. Military secrecy hid the universal rejection of the national high command just enough for the generals to tamp it down — and adjust course. The French Army never carried off a major attack for the rest of the war. (!) Instead, it played second fiddle to the rapidly expanding AEF and its offensives. For obvious political reasons, all of this nasty reality was officially repressed — right along with the existence of the Spanish Flu — which pandemic was the real reason the war ended. You can read endless histories of the Great War — and yet not read in them a word about a disease that killed more people than all combat actions.)
    All of which is a long way of saying that the ISI/ Taliban are not going to stop until they’ve run out of blood or money. This has gone far beyond reason. The opfor is not conducting a military-political calculus such as would happen in a think tank.
    Instead, they fight on because they’ve already invested so much into the ‘project’ that they can’t deviate.
    The West saw this vs Japan and later in Vietnam. While Hanoi did prevail, it was a Pyrrhic victory. In many ways, Vietnam has never recovered from that ‘victory.’
    So while the anti-rational martial ardor of the opfor is propped up by faith, clan and money (often ours), these probing attacks will happen.
    I suspect that the war will wind down to local vendettas when Pakistan runs out of (our) money. Strange to say, but we’re funding both sides of the fight. That’s the islamic ‘protection’ racket for you.

  • mike merlo says:

    “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.”
    IMO these human fougasse’s have more of an impact on the “international community” & the clueless degenerate hacks in MSM. After all the people of Afghanistan have been through the last few decades a bunch of bandits engaging in brigandage, rape, pillaging, etc., are the least of the Afghans worry. They’ll handle these scoundrels & those that follow with their ‘accumulating’ aplomb


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