A suicide bomber killed 10 Afghan students, two US soldiers, and an Afghan Local policeman in an attack today outside a school in Paktia province, a haven for the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network. No group has claimed the attack.
The suicide bomber, who was riding on a motorcycle, detonated his explosives near a boys’ high school in the Chamkani district as a combined US Army and Afghan Local Police force was traveling nearby.
The chief of police for Paktia province said that 10 students, two US soldiers, and a member of the Afghan Local Police were killed in the blast. Five US soldiers and 20 Afghans, including many children, were also wounded, according to Reuters.
The International Security Assistance Force confirmed that two of its soldiers and “several” Afghans were killed in an attack in the east, but did not provide specifics on the location of the attack or the nationality of the troops who died.
“Two International Security Assistance Force service member were killed during a vehicle borne improvised explosive device attack in eastern Afghanistan today,” ISAF announced in a press release. “The attack also killed and wounded several Afghan civilians.”
The US Army is deployed in Paktia province, and US Special Forces often partner with the Afghan Local Police, who are routinely targeted by the Taliban.
While no group has claimed credit for the attack, the Haqqani Network, a Taliban subgroup that is closely allied with al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in the region, is known to operate in Paktia and in the neighboring provinces of Paktika and Khost. The group is based in Pakistan’s tribal agency of North Waziristan, and is backed by Pakistan’s military and Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. The Haqqani Network rarely releases official statements claiming credit for attacks.
Today’s suicide attack in Paktia is the fifth high-profile suicide bombing in Afghanistan by the Taliban and their allies in the past two weeks.
On May 29, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an al Qaeda affiliate, and the Taliban launched a joint suicide assault on the governor’s compound in Panjshir. That same day, a suicide assault team attacked a Red Cross office in Jalalabad. The Taliban have denied involvement in the Jalalabad assault.
On May 24, a Taliban suicide assault team targeted a UN-linked NGO compound in Kabul. And on May 23, a suicide bomber killed seven people in an attack that targeted a local militia commander in Ghazni.
ISAF steps up raids against Haqqani Network in Paktia
The suicide attack in Paktia took place as ISAF has stepped up its raids against the Haqqani Network in the province. In the past week, ISAF and the Afghan military have reported six raids against Haqqani Network forces in the province. Ten Haqqani Network fighters were killed and eight more were captured during the raids.
On June 2, the Afghan military reported that ISAF helicopters killed six Haqqani Network fighters in the Zurmat district.
On June 1, ISAF said it killed three Haqqani Network fighters during two raids in the Gardez district. The next day, ISAF confirmed that a Haqqani Network commander known as Faizullah was killed in one of the two raids. Faizullah “conducted improvised explosive device attacks and intimidation campaigns targeting Afghan and coalition forces,” “facilitated the movement of weapons and military equipment into the local area,” and was “responsible for kidnapping operations and coordinated with senior leaders to carry out guidance within the Haqqani Network.”
On May 30, ISAF wounded an “enemy of Afghanistan” during a raid that targeted a Haqqani Network leader in the Zurmat district. On May 29, another “insurgent” was killed in a raid that targeted a Haqqani Network commander in Zurmat.
And on May 28, ISAF and Afghan forces captured a Haqqani Network leader and seven “insurgents” during another operation in Gardez. The captured Haqqani Network leader served as an attack coordinator and facilitator, logistics specialist, and “intelligence operative for senior Haqqani leadership.”
Paktia blast kills students, US soldiers, Pajhwok Afghan News
Blast by school in Afghan east kills six students, two US soldiers, Reuters
ISAF Chopper Attack Kill 6 Taliban Militants in Paktiya, Khaama Press
ISAF Joint Command Operational Update – June 3
ISAF Joint Command Operational Update – June 2
ISAF Joint Command Operational Update – May 30
ISAF Joint Command Operational Update – May 28