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Taliban suicide squad kills dozens in assault on Kandahar airport

A Taliban suicide assault team killed more than 30 people in an attack on Kandahar International Airport in southern Afghanistan that lasted for more than a day before Afghan forces backed by the U.S. military could regain control.

The attack began yesterday when groups of fighters armed with assault rifles and dressed in military fatigues penetrated security at the base. Afghan officials said the Taliban assault team enter via one of the gates, then took up positions at a school, a bazaar, and other buildings in a civilian area of the airport. Kandahar International Airport abuts Kandahar Airbase, where more than 2,000 U.S. and NATO forces are stationed.

Fighting lasted for nearly 20 hours before the main thrust of the Taliban assault was defeated. According to Reuters, nine Taliban fighters were killed, one was wounded and captured, and one more is currently holding off Afghan forces at the airbase. At least 10 and possibly 11 Taliban fighters were involved in the assault. The Taliban released photographs that showed 10 members of the suicide assault team.

The Taliban offered a vastly different results of the operations. The Afghan Ministry of Defense reported that 37 soldiers and civilians were killed and another 35 were wounded.

The Taliban claimed that "over 150 invaders [U.S. and NATO forces] and hirelings [Afghan security forces] have also been killed." Additionally, the Taliban claimed it destroyed "27 APCs," or armored personnel carriers, and "many aircraft parked inside the base have also caught fire and have been destroyed." The Taliban routinely exaggerate the effects of its operations. No U.S. or NATO personnel are reported to have been killed or wounded, and there has been no indication that U.S. warplanes were damaged or destroyed.

The Taliban provided several updates at Voice of Jihad on the attack on Kandahar's airport, and even claimed that the "martyrdom seekers" involved in the assault "called via telephone to inform our correspondent" to provided updates on the battle.

Coalition and Afghan air bases and other major military installations have been a frequent target of the Taliban over the past several years. The most prominent attack took place at Camp Bastion in Helmand province on Sept. 14, 2012. A 15-man Taliban team penetrated the perimeter at the airbase, destroyed six USMC Harriers and damaged two more, and killed the U.S. squadron commander and a sergeant. Fourteen of the 15 members of the assault team were killed, while the last was wounded and captured.

The Taliban have also launched multiple suicide assaults against the Afghan military, police, governmental institutions including the parliament, courts, and hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners and the Afghan elite.

The Taliban does not hide the fact that it trains and deploys suicide teams to attack Western and Afghan targets inside the country. In early November, the Taliban advertised the "Suicide Mujahideen Muaskar ul Fida's" pledge of fealty to its emir, Mullah Mansour.

Two key leaders of the "Suicide Groups" have been identified by the Taliban. Mullah Taj Mir Jawad has been described as the head of a "martyrdom-seekers battalion." Jawad swore allegiance to Mullah Mansour in a video released by the group in September. Qari Abdul Raouf Zakir, the "commander" of the Taliban's "suicide groups," also swore allegiance to Mullah Mansour in the same video as Jawad. Qari Zakir, who was designated as a terrorist by the State Department in November 2012, has long commanded the Haqqani Network's suicide operations.

The suicide assault, or coordinated attack using one or more suicide bombers and an assault team, is a tactic frequently used by a numbe rof jihadists groups operating worldwide. The Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, al Qaeda and its branches, allied groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the rival Islamic State have all used this tactic across the Middle East and Africa.

This tactic has begun to be exported by jihadist groups to the West. In November, an Islamic State suicide assault team attacked Paris, France and killed more than 120 people.

[Source: By Bill Roggio, The Long War Journal, NJ, 09Dec15]

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small logoThis document has been published on 15Dec15 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.