Taliban assaults Afghan Army corps headquarters in north

The Taliban launched a suicide assault on an Afghan Army corps headquarters in the northern province of Balkh today and attacked the mosque on the base.

Taliban fighters “managed to penetrate multiple layers of protection at the Afghan National Army’s 209 Shaheen Corps Headquarters” near the provincial capital of Mazar-i-Sharif, TOLONews reported. The Taliban fighters reportedly entered the base in two Ranger pickup trucks, which are used by Afghan security forces and supplied by the US. The Taliban fighters were wearing Afghan military uniforms, according to Pajhwok Afghan News.

The Taliban assault team is said to have attacked the mosque on the base. At least 10 people are reported to have been killed in the fighting. It is unclear if the casualties include Taliban fighters.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed the attack on his Twitter feed, and said the Taliban opened the assault by using “suicide attacks,” which allowed “a large number of Mujahideen” to penetrate the base. According to Mujahid, more than 100 Afghan security personnel were killed in the fighting, including a battalion commander known as Shirin Agha and Colonel Abdul, “the Chief of Staff Corps.” His account could not be verified, and the Taliban routinely inflate the number of casualties caused by their operations.

In a series of tweets, Mujahid said that Afghan forces have been demoralized by the suicide assault in Balkh, and Taliban forces are entrenched in the western province and capable of conducting offensive operations. In a statement released by the Taliban at the end of March, the group claimed it fully controls one of Balkh’s districts and contests nine others. While the Taliban’s claims of control of districts in Afghanistan are difficult to confirm, they largely match with an analysis by FDD’s Long War Journal.

The suicide assault, or coordinated attack using one or more suicide bombers and an assault team, is a tactic frequently used by the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda and its branches.  It is also used by allied groups such as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Shabaab, and by the rival Islamic State. Suicide assaults are commonly executed by jihadist groups in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Nigeria.

Taliban, allied jihadists operate in Balkh

The Taliban has launched several major attacks against high-profile targets in Balkh in the past. Most recently, in November 2016, a Taliban suicide assault team killed six civilians and wounded more than 100 in an attack on the German consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif.

Additionally, In early January 2016, jihadists assaulted the Indian consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif and held off security forces for a day before being killed. No group has claimed credit for the attack, but one of the fighters wrote in Urdu “Afzal Guru is avenged” on the wall in his own blood before being killed, according to The Indian Express. Afzal Guru was a Jaish-e-Mohammed operative who was executed for his involvement in the Dec. 2001 assault on India’s Parliament in New Delhi. That attack was executed by Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

To complicate matters further, Asmatullah Muawiya, a Pakistani terrorist who serves as one of several al Qaeda “company” commanders as well as the leader of the Taliban in Punjab province, had threatened to avenge Guru’s execution.

Whichever group attacked the Indian consulate in January 2016 would need the help of the local Taliban to carry it out.

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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  • sami says:

    Actually Afghan Terrorists attacked the Indian consulate in Mazar e Sharif and in fact Indian terrorists in Afghanistan ordered the attack…. 13 Indian IS terrorists got killed in the recent MOAB attack in Afghanistan.

  • sami says:

    Afghanistan should stop hosting Anti-Uzbekistan and Anti-Pakistan jihadists

  • attrition says:

    this is a one off rare attack. the taliban are doing their jihad at a snails pace, but on rare occasions they do a big attack, then they go back to doing their jihad at a snails pace. the taliban are not going to win any time soon. at the pace they are going, they are going to win in 2019.

    btw i believe the taliban when they say they killed 100+ ANDSF personnel. the taliban are very honest, unlike the afghan government, NATO, the american government, the media and the press.

  • Arjuna says:

    Pakistan should stop sponsoring the Taliban!
    This attack reminds me of Karachi Dockyard 2014. I wonder if AQIS were involved. They used four serving soldiers at the base. This is how they will try to grab a nuclear weapon, if they can’t get one in transit.
    Important new piece on Zawahiri by Newsweek:
    ISI is even dirtier and more deceitful than I thought!

  • Arjuna says:

    The Taliban are very honest… hahaha that’s funny.
    Like keeping their One-eyed Cyclops of a Leader’s death secret from their own followers for years? Please.
    A one-off? Get serious. This was an ISI-special, like many others.
    More MOABs please. One on the GHQ in ‘pindi will do for a start.
    That should drop the number of Taliban attacks considerably.


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