Taliban suicide bomber hits Afghan military convoy

A Taliban suicide bomber targeted an Afghan military convoy as it passed through a district in eastern Afghanistan that has been a hotbed of terrorist activity. Yesterday’s attack is the second major suicide bombing against Afghan forces within a week.

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense reported eight soldiers were killed and nine more were wounded in the district of Sayedabad in Maidan Wardak province, according to TOLONews.

The Taliban claimed credit for the attack in a statement that was released in Arabic on its official web site, Voice of Jihad. In their statement, the Taliban claimed that “Abdullah Ghaznawi” from its “Special Forces” drove his vehicle into the middle of the convoy, which stopped in the district.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted about the suicide bombing on his Twitter account, where his casualty account differed significantly from the Ministry of Defense. Mujahid wrote that 48 Afghan soldiers were killed and wounded while seven armored personnel carriers were destroyed. The spokesman’s claims could not be independently verified.

The Taliban justified its terror tactic by claiming that the “Kabul administration” is “delaying the release of detainees” and “seeks to prevent the start of Afghan talks.”

The Taliban continues to use the signature terror tactic of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups despite signing a deal with the U.S. that facilitates the withdrawal of American troops from the country. It even released a video that celebrated its suicide teams after signing the deal.

Yesterday’s suicide bombing is the second of its kind in seven days. On July 13, a Taliban suicide assault team attacked the headquarters of the National Directorate of Security in the provincial capital of Samangan in northern Afghanistan. At least 10 people were killed and more than 50 were wounded in that attack.

Sayedabad: a Taliban stronghold

Sayedabad has long been a bastion of Taliban power in Maidan Wardak, the province that borders Kabul to the southwest.

FDD’s Long War Journal assesses Sayyadabad as Taliban-controlled. The Taliban collects taxes and imposes its harsh form of sharia, or Islamic law, in much of the district.

The Taliban has executed several high profile attacks in the district. In Aug. 2011, Taliban fighters shot down a US Chinook helicopter and killed 31 U.S. and seven Afghan special operations forces, including several members of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, which is more commonly known as SEAL Team 6.

One year later, the Taliban launched a double suicide attack against a U.S. military base in the district, killing two policemen and 10 civilians.

More recently, in 2017, the Taliban ambushed and destroyed an Afghan military convoy in the district. A Taliban video that was produced by the media arm of the Haqqani Network and released on Voice of Jihad showed Taliban fighters savaging the Afghan National Army convoy in broad daylight.

In June 2019, the Taliban killed two U.S. soldiers in the district during an ambush and protracted firefight.

Al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan are known to have operated in Wardak province. Before the U.S. military halted its reporting on the targeting of foreign terrorists in the summer of 2013, it noted in its press releases that it targeted the two groups in the districts of Maidan Shah, Sayedabad, and Tarnek Wa Jaldak – nearly half of the province’s eight districts.

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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