Taliban suicide assault team targets foreigners in Kabul

The Afghan Taliban claimed credit for a suicide assault in Kabul today that killed more than 20 people, including the International Monetary Fund’s representative to Afghanistan and three UN employees.

A three-man suicide assault team targeted a Lebanese restaurant in a secured area of the capital that is frequented by Westerners, foreigners, and the Afghan elite. A suicide bomber detonated outside of the restaurant, while the other two Taliban fighters entered the building, shot at the customers, and fought with the guards for 20 minutes before being killed.

Twenty-one people, including the IMF’s representative to Afghanistan, three UN workers, two Americans, two Brits, two Canadians, and a Danish citizen were killed in the attack, according to Reuters.

The Taliban released a statement on their website, Voice of Jihad, taking credit for the attack. The Taliban claimed that their fighters “killed many foragers [foreigners], mostly German invaders.” The group routinely exaggerates the effects of its operations. The German foreign ministry has not confirmed that its citizens were among those killed.

Today’s attack took place just two days after Afghan and Coalition special operations forces targeted the Taliban’s deputy shadow governor for Parwan province, which borders Kabul. The Taliban leader, Qari Nazar Gul, is linked to the Haqqani Network and “transports weapons, fighters and suicide bombers to Parwan and Kabul,” ISAF stated. He supports the Kabul Attack Network, an alliance of jihadist groups that includes al Qaeda and the Haqqani Network and is tasked with executing attacks inside the capital. [See LWJ report, Afghan, US forces target Haqqani-linked Taliban leader in Parwan.]

The Taliban later released a statement claiming that the attack in Kabul was executed to avenge the Afghan and Coalition raid in Parwan province that targeted Gul.

The Afghan Taliban lauded suicide attacks against Western and Afghan targets as “heroic operations of the Mujahideen” in statement released on Voice of Jihad last summer.

The suicide assault, or coordinated attack using multiple suicide bombers and an assault team, is a tactic that is frequently used in Afghanistan by the Taliban and their allies, including the Haqqani Network, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, al Qaeda, and the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Suicide assaults are also commonly executed by al Qaeda and jihadist groups in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and Nigeria.

The Taliban have launched numerous suicide assaults against Coalition and Afghan bases. One of the more prominent attacks over the past several years was the Afghan Taliban’s assault on Camp Bastion in Helmand in September 2012; two US Marines were killed, and six Harriers were destroyed and two more were damaged.

The Taliban launched a failed suicide assault on an Afghan base in Nangarhar on Jan. 4; the seven members of the Taliban team were gunned down by security forces. One ISAF soldier was killed in the attack.

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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