A Taliban suicide assault team stormed a courthouse in western Afghanistan today in an attempt to free Taliban prisoners who were on trial.
The Taliban assault team, estimated at between six to nine fighters, penetrated security at the courthouse in Farah City by dressing in Afghan National Army uniforms and fooling the guards at the checkpoints. Four of the heavily armed Taliban fighters, some who were wearing suicide vests, dismounted a truck and attacked the courthouse, while two of fighters detonated explosives on the vehicle. The four Taliban fighters then entered the complex and engaged in a firefight with police.
Reports on the number of casualties have varied from eight to 44 killed and more than 90 wounded during the Taliban assault. According to the BBC, 34 civilians and 10 Afghan security personnel, and nine Taliban fighters were killed during the attack. Several judges and court officials are said to be among the wounded.
The Taliban took credit for the suicide assault in Farah City, and also claimed they freed the 15 Taliban prisoners who were being transferred for trial. Afghan officials denied that the Taliban fighters were freed, and said they remain in custody.
Today’s suicide assault is the first in Farah province since May 17, 2012, when a four-man Taliban suicide team attacked the governor’s compound. Six policemen, a civilian, and all four Taliban fighters were killed in the attack.
The Taliban routinely carry out suicide assaults, or “storming operations,” on ISAF and Afghan bases. The last such attack took place on March 26, when a suicide assault team hit an Afghan police headquarters in Jalalabad in Nangarhar province. One of the most successful Taliban suicide assaults took place at Camp Bastion in Helmand province in September 2012. The Taliban destroyed six USMC Harriers and badly damaged two more, and also killed the squadron commander and a sergeant during the attack.
Today’s attack in Farah also took place just two days after ISAF aircraft killed nine “militants,” including “Iranian and Arab fighters,” in the province, according to Pajhwok Afghan News. Iran, by means of its Qods Force Ansar Corps, is known to sponsor al Qaeda and Taliban groups in western and southern Afghanistan [see LWJ report, Iranian Qods Force commanders linked to Taliban: US Treasury and Treasury targets Iran’s ‘secret deal’ with al Qaeda]. ISAF officials have also directly linked Qods Force to several of the Taliban commanders.
ISAF has targeted Iranian-supported Taliban commanders in at least 14 raids in western Afghanistan between June 2009 and February 2011, according to Coalition press releases compiled by The Long War Journal. ISAF inexplicably stopped reporting on raids against Iranian-supported Taliban commanders in early February 2011; LWJ‘s queries to ISAF on this subject have gone unanswered [see LWJ report, Taliban suicide assault team kills 36 Afghans in western city].
Afghanistan courthouse attack ‘kills 30 people’, BBC
Explosion and gunbattle in Farah leaves 11 killed, 70 injured, Khaama Press
12 dead in Farah court attack, Pahjwok Afghan News
Militant attack kills 8, wounds 72 in Afghanistan, Taliban claims responsibility, Xinhua