The Afghan Taliban have claimed credit for a suicide assault on a base in Kandahar province that hosts Coalition and Afghan forces. The suicide assault today in the southern province is the second such attack in Afghanistan in four days.
Today’s suicide assault targeted a base in the district of Zhari, long considered to be the cradle of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. Zhari, which has been described as “the heart of darkness” due to Taliban rule, was one of several districts that the International Security Assistance Force focused on during the limited surge of US forces from 2010 to 2011.
The attack began when a Taliban suicide bomber, identified by the Taliban as “Izzatullah,” rammed a truck laden with explosives into the perimeter of the base. Then a heavily armed Taliban squad dressed in ISAF uniforms breached the base and engaged ISAF and Afghan forces.
The Taliban claimed the attack in a statement on Voice of Jihad, saying that five fighters were involved in the follow-on assault. The Taliban identified the fighters as “Zarraar, Zarqawi Helmandi, Abdullah Kunduzi, Anas Daikondi and Habib Ghaznawi” and said they were “armed with heavy/light weapons and explosives vests.”
Afghan officials claimed that up to nine fighters attacked the base. Security forces gunned down the Taliban fighters during the ensuing firefight. ISAF has confirmed that one Coalition soldier was killed during the suicide attack.
“An International Security Assistance Force service member died following a coordinated suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack by enemy forces in southern Afghanistan today,” ISAF said in a statement that was obtained by The Long War Journal. US forces are known to operate in Kandahar.
“Operational reports state there was moderate damage to the outer perimeter of the base; however, the base is currently secured and all enemy forces were killed as a result of the attack,” ISAF said.
Today’s suicide assault is the second complex suicide operation in Zhari in the past four months that resulted in the death of Coalition forces. On Oct. 6, 2013, in a coordinated attack that included at least one suicide bomber and IEDS, the Taliban killed four US soldiers who were part of a combined US and Afghan patrol. [See Threat Matrix report, 4 US soldiers killed in Taliban suicide attack.]
The Taliban also launched a complex suicide assault in the capital of Kabul just three days ago. In that attack, a suicide bomber detonated outside a restaurant frequented by foreigners. Following the blast, two heavily armed Taliban fighters entered the restaurant and gunned down 21 people, including the IMF’s representative to Afghanistan, three UN workers, two Americans, two Brits, two Canadians, and a Danish citizen. [See LWJ report, Taliban suicide assault team targets foreigners in Kabul.]
After the attack, the Taliban angrily rejected the Obama administration’s call for the group to “put down their arms and begin peace talks.” Instead the group said it would continue to target ISAF forces and Afghan “nationals who are the enemies of our land and religion and are working for the aims of the occupation.”
In statement released on Voice of Jihad last summer, the Afghan Taliban lauded suicide attacks, al Qaeda’s signature tactic, against Western and Afghan targets as “heroic operations of the Mujahideen.”
The suicide assault, or coordinated attack using multiple suicide bombers and an assault team, is a tactic that is frequently used in Afghanistan by the Taliban and their allies, including the Haqqani Network, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, al Qaeda, and the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Suicide assaults are also commonly executed by al Qaeda and jihadist groups in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and Nigeria.
9 bombers, US soldier killed in Kandahar ISAF base attack, Pajhwok Afghan News
NATO soldier killed in militants attack on ISAF base in Kandahar, Khaama Press
Taliban Suicide Bombers Target US-Afghan Base in Kandahar, TOLONews
Martyrdom attack hits US-nato base in Zhiri, Voice of Jihad