A pair of Taliban suicide assault teams killed Paktia’s provincial police chief as well as dozens of security personnel and civilians in attacks on a police headquarters and a training center in the provincial capital of Gardez City earlier today. The Taliban claimed credit for the attack and released photos of the massive blast.
The first attack began as the Taliban detonated a truck laden with explosives outside of police headquarters in Gardez City. After the blasts breached the outer perimeter, a team of Taliban fighters entered the compound and attacked the survivors.
In the second assault, the Taliban used a HUMVEE seized from Afghan forces as a car bomb and detonated it outside of the the Police Training College. Another Taliban suicide assault entered the training center and engaged the security personnel there.
Reports from Gardez indicate that the Taliban teams battled police for four hours before the fighting ended. Afghan officials claimed that they killed the Taliban fighters, while the Taliban said their fighters escaped.
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior Affairs confirmed that Toryalai Abdyani, the Paktia police chief, and 21 policemen and 20 civilians were killed in the attacks, while 48 policemen and 110 civilians were wounded.
The Taliban claimed credit for the attacks in two separate postings on its Arabic-language version of Voice of Jihad. In the first statement, the Taliban released photographs of the plume from the blasts. The second statement provided more details.
The Taliban has targeted Afghan police in Gardez in the past. In June, a Taliban suicide assault team stormed the provincial police headquarters and killed at least six policemen before being gunned down.
Paktia province is a bastion of the Haqqani Network, the Taliban subgroup based in eastern Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s tribal agencies of Kurram and North Waziristan.
The Taliban suicide teams used tactics that have been perfected by multiple jihadist groups on numerous battlefields over the past decade and a half. The suicide assault, or coordinated attack using one or more suicide bombers and an assault team, is a tactic frequently used by the Taliban and 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.
The Taliban used this tactic to penetrate security at the Afghan National Army’s 209th Shaheen Corps Headquarters in Mazar-i-Sharif in Balkh province in April. A ten-man team camouflaged in Afghan military uniforms killed more than 140 Afghan soldiers using both gun fire and bomb blasts.
In the past, the Taliban has claimed to have “thousands of fully armed martyrdom seekers” at its disposal to conduct attacks inside Afghanistan and has provided some information on the structure of its “martyrdom units,” “martyrdom-seekers battalion,” and “suicide groups.” These units all fall under the command of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the military commander for the Taliban and one of the group’s two deputy emirs. Siraj is also the operational commander of the Haqqani Network.
Images from the attacks in Gardez City