Posts Tagged ‘Haqqani’
A suicide bomber yesterday killed 17 people, including five US soldiers and eight British and American civilian contractors, when he drove a minibus packed with explosives into the side of a military bus in Kabul in one of the deadliest attacks inside the city since the conflict began.
The explosion hurled the heavily armoured bus into the air, engulfing it in a fireball as it travelled in a convoy of armoured vehicles towards a nearby Nato base in the southwest of the Afghan capital.
Thick black smoke poured from the side of the bus as it lay on its side opposite Kabul’s American University and Darulaman palace, the bombed-out seat of Afghanistan’s former kings and presidents.
The victims included five American soldiers, a Canadian soldier, five American civilian contractors, two British contractors, an Afghan policeman and three Afghan civilians. Two children were among the wounded.
Ambulances and fire engines sped to the scene as Nato soldiers treated some of the casualties. The twisted frame of a motorcycle lay among the charred metal fragments that littered the road.
“There was a huge explosion and I turned to see a massive cloud of smoke rising into the air,” said Mokhtar Aria, who works as a mechanic. “The bus was on fire. I watched them pulling the bodies from it.”
Two Nato helicopters landed to evacuate the dead and wounded to a military hospital near Kabul. Later, witnesses saw US soldiers carry three black body bags from the bus before lifting out another badly charred body from the burnt-out wreckage.
Another witness said he saw the badly charred bodies of US soldiers inside the military bus, known as a Rhino because of its heavy armour. In accordance with usual practice, none of the military victims has been named.
Throughout yesterday, French and American bomb disposal units conducted a forensic examination of the area while Afghan intelligence officials scoured the site for evidence. A military guard dog was also killed in the blast.
As Nato cordoned off the surrounding streets, the wounded were rushed to Kabul’s Estiqlal hospital. Among them was Ali Ahmad, 9, who was yesterday recovering.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, although in the past the Haqqani network, the most lethal insurgent force in Afghanistan, has been blamed for similar high-profile attacks in the capital. Read the rest of this entry »
The terrorists who launched a commando assault on one of Kabul’s leading hotels received help from three insiders, including a police officer, according to the man who planned the attack.
Eight suicide bombers armed with rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machineguns, assault rifles, grenade launchers and suicide vests stormed the InterContinental Hotel on the night of June 28, triggering a battle that lasted more than seven hours and left 20 dead.
The attack highlighted the inability of Kabul’s security forces to thwart attacks on high-profile targets in the Afghan capital as Nato begins to hand over control of parts of the country to the Afghan government.
Closed-circuit TV footage taken from the InterContinental on the night of the attack showed the commander of the hotel’s police force asleep as the first shots were fired. After he awoke to the sound of gunfire, he could be seen fleeing the hotel with his men.
Last Sunday, militants assassinated an Afghan politician and a close aide of President Hamid Karzai’s. The attack underlined the threat insurgents pose to security in the capital. It also hinted at the role Pakistan plays in stoking insecurity in Afghanistan.
Mobile phone intercepts made during the initial stages of the InterContinental attack show the attackers were communicating directly with their commander, Badruddin Haqqani, who is based in Pakistan, where the attack was planned.
Badruddin is the deputy leader of the Haqqani network, which is considered the most sophisticated insurgent force in Afghanistan. The Haqqanis maintain close ties with Al-Qaeda and are often accused of receiving support from the Pakistani military and intelligence services.
“It’s like a PlayStation game,” said an Afghan intelligence official. “Pakistan always holds one of the controllers so they can play their games whenever they want.”
Police investigating the attack are baffled by how the InterContinental attackers were able to break into the well-guarded hotel with such a large arsenal. One insurgent was caught on camera carrying 16 RPG warheads in a quiver on his back. “How they got into the hotel with this much ammunition is still a mystery,” said an Afghan security official.
The deputy head of the Haqqani network’s Kabul cell, which is responsible for planning and co-ordinating attacks in the Afghan capital, told The Sunday Times that the attackers were aided by a police officer, an interpreter and the bodyguard of a senior government official who was staying at the hotel. Read the rest of this entry »