Center for Strategic Communication

The Taliban launched an early morning suicide assault today on the US Consulate in the western Afghan city of Herat. The attack is the latest in a series of suicide assaults and bombings that have taken place throughout Afghanistan over the past three weeks.

The attack began around 6:00 a.m. when a van pulled up outside the main gate of the consulate and the suicide bomber detonated his explosives. Six heavily armed Taliban fighters said to be dressed in Afghan military uniforms then entered the security perimeter and engaged Afghan security personnel. One of them is thought to have detonated his vest.

Two Afghan security personnel and all seven members of the suicide assault team are reported to have been killed after more than an hour of fighting. The main gate of the consulate was badly damaged in the explosion and windows of the building were shattered.

The US State Department confirmed that the attack had taken place. Marie Harf, a spokeswoman, said that “a truck carrying attackers drove to the front gate, and attackers – possibly firing rocket propelled grenades and assault rifles – started firing at Afghan forces and security guards on the exterior of the gates. Shortly after, the entire truck exploded, extensively damaging the front gate.”

Ambassador Cunningham said no US personnel were killed, but that “Afghan civilians and Afghans on contract to the Consulate were also killed or injured.” He also noted that ISAF security forces intervened. Reports indicate that US special forces arrived on the scene while US Army Apache helicopters also responded to the attack.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi told Pajhwok Afghan News that the Taliban had attacked the US diplomatic facility, and he claimed that 13 Americans and 12 Afghan National Army personnel were killed in the assault.

The Taliban have now launched seven major suicide attacks in Afghanistan since Aug. 26 [see LWJ report, Taliban suicide team hits base at border crossing with Pakistan, and Threat Matrix report, Taliban suicide assault hits NDS HQ in Wardak for more details on the other attacks]. The attacks have not been concentrated in one region; they have taken place throughout Afghanistan. The suicide bombings and assaults have occurred in Herat, (west), Nangarhar (east), Ghazni (southeast), Helmand (south), Kapisa and Wardak (central),and Kunduz (north). Additionally, Taliban forces executed a major ambush along the Ring Road in Farah (west) during the same time period.

The Taliban promised to attack Coalition and Afghan forces as well as government officials when they announced their “Khalid bin Waleed spring operation” in April. The Taliban stressed that they would use “special military tactics” and “collective martyrdom operations,” a reference to suicide assaults, and “insider attacks,” or green-on-blue attacks, in which Afghan security forces attack ISAF personnel.