Taliban launch suicide assault on ISAF PRT in Ghazni

The Taliban launched two suicide attacks on Coalition forces in Afghanistan today, including an assault on the Provincial Reconstruction Team base in Ghazni province in the southeast. In the other attack, a suicide bomber struck a convoy in Helmand province.

The Taliban suicide assault team attacked the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ghazni in the afternoon. According to Xinhua, two suicide bombers detonated outside the main gate, enabling a team of Taliban fighters to enter the perimeter, take control of a building inside the compound, and open fire on military and civilian personnel.

The International Security Assistance Force confirmed that “enemy forces” attacked a Coalition base in Ghazni.

“We can confirm enemy forces attacked a forward operating base in eastern Afghanistan today with a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, indirect fire and small arms fire,” ISAF told The Long War Journal. “Currently, we are in the process of assessing the situation and will release more operational information as appropriate.”

Four Afghan civilians, three police officers, and 10 Taliban fighters were killed in the attack, according to The Associated Press. ISAF later reported that one soldier was killed. Ten Polish soldiers were also wounded in the attack.

The Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ghazni is manned by US and Polish forces as well as civilian experts. Its mission is to provide assistance to Afghan civilians and the government in the province.

The Taliban have used suicide attacks against PRT officials in the past. In April, a Taliban suicide bomber killed three US soldiers, a State Department official, and a Defense Department official from the PRT in Zabul as they were driving in the capital of Qalat. Four more State personnel were wounded in the blast.

In the attack in Helmand today, a Taliban suicide bomber targeted a US military convoy in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital. Five Afghan civilians were killed and more than 15 were wounded, according to Xinhua. An armored vehicle was damaged in the attack.

Ghazni remains a battleground as Coalition forces continue to withdraw

With the transfer of control from the Coalition to Afghan security forces and the drawdown of Coalition personnel, violence in Ghazni province has spiked. So far in August, the Taliban have kidnapped a female member of parliament and two other civilians in the province, and then later offered to exchange the captives for eight Taliban fighters currently in prison. The Taliban have also kidnapped and then executed eight other civilians in Ghazni. Additionally, a Polish soldier was recently killed in a Taliban attack.

The Afghan military and police claim to have killed 36 Taliban fighters in Ghazni since Aug. 18. But in one of the reports, which said that security forces killed 20 Taliban fighters, the police admitted that four police personnel had been killed and policemen had abandoned several outposts during a Taliban assault.

Ghazni is a known Taliban and al Qaeda hub in the southeast. Senior Taliban, al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan commanders are known to operate in the province.

Last September, the governor of Ghazni said the Taliban were bringing in “foreign militants” into the province, and the deputy chief of the Ghazni provincial council said that a large number of Pakistanis are fighting in Ghazni. Additionally, a US military commander who operated in the southeastern province in 2011 said that foreign trainers, including Arabs, Chechens, and Pakistanis operate in Ghazni while Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate is sabotaging Coalition efforts in the province.

Al Qaeda operatives and leaders often serve as embedded military trainers for Taliban field units and impart tactics and bomb-making skills to these forces. In addition, al Qaeda frequently supports the Taliban by funding operations and providing weapons and other aid. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda’s paramilitary ‘Shadow Army,’ for more information on al Qaeda’s role in Afghanistan.]

Over the past several years, a number of al Qaeda leaders and operatives have been killed or captured in Ghazni. Aafia Siddiqui, an American-educated Pakistani scientist who has been dubbed “Lady al Qaeda” by the press, was captured in Ghazni in 2008. At least six other al Qaeda operatives have been captured, and another has been killed, in the province [see LWJ report, ISAF targets al Qaeda-linked Taliban operative in Afghan southeast].

For more information on foreign fighters operating in Ghazni, see LWJ report, ‘Foreign militants’ still present in Ghazni.

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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8 Comments

  • Kent Gatewood says:

    Have these people not heard/read of gatehouses?
    Leaping 13th century castle construction techniques.
    Two curtain walls, ditches, gatehouses with multiple barriers, electronic speakers and cameras not guards at first entrance…

  • john smith says:

    They did not hit anywhere near the gate! they blew a hole in the wall where the airfield is (nothing around it) and made it onto the base but were all killed before they could actually reach any buildings. Poor choice of breach.

  • jean says:

    All static defenses have weaknesses. Coordinating a response on a blended base is tricky, too many moving parts. Hats off to the Poles, they have been steady allies in this fight. It took years to make the local Afghans realize that the Poles were not Russians. During their initial deployment, they brought Soviet style vehicles to the Ghazni province.

  • Observer says:

    I wonder who’s telling the truth? Taliban claimed they killed 78 ISAF members in the attack and 21 afghan hirelings.
    On top of that, they said they destroyed 2 helicopters, 6 tanks, and 20 vehicles plus other damages.
    Thats big news if you ask me.
    //shahamat-english.com/index.php/news/36152-ghazni-martyrdom-operation-leaves-109-invaders-hirelings-dead,-2-helicopters-wrecked
    I think thelongwarjournal needs to revise their sources and stop deceiving their viewers. Also it wouldn’t hurt if they bring the other side of the story.

  • Michal Hola says:

    Here are some more details of the Taliban attack on ISAF PRT in Ghazni – //madmagazine.pl/79/talibowie-mogli-od-miesiecy-przygotowywac-atak-na-baze-w-ghazni/ Text unfortunately is written in Polish, but google translator should help 🙂

  • SUN says:

    This time the Taliban committed an attack in the evening. So far all their attacks were carried out in the early morning hours. What you think was the reason for the change of attack time/tactic?

  • Amna Rizvi says:

    The Taliban and even the polish claim a LOT more damage then LWJ reports. Also, those killed in the convoy were not civilians. They were American or ISAF contractors!

  • blert says:

    Observer:
    It would take Persius and Rambo combined to inflict that level of damage: only eleven surviving fanatics!
    Granted, the ISAF has not always been forthcoming about opfor assaults.
    But with every trooper having a cell phone at the ready, it’s a pretty good bet that video of the event will be uploaded soon.
    It’s interesting — and of note — that the opfor prioritized ruining the major civilian assistance program for the whole area.
    Such a gambit brings back the Taiblan maladministration: ruined buildings just about everywhere, no radio, no TV, no music, no media… pretty much no commerce. Most Afghan bazaars had folded tents and blown away. In such a time, even a one-eyed man could be king.

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