Taliban rehearsed attacks for months

2012-04-16 16:01

Kabul - The insurgents who mounted weekend attacks in central Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan carefully rehearsed for months, even building small military-style models and pre-positioning weapons, a Taliban spokesperson said on Monday.

Zabihullah Mujahid provided Reuters with a rare insight into how the group plans strategic high-profile attacks designed to deal a psychological blow to US-led Nato forces and their allies in the Afghan security forces.

In the latest, a 30-member suicide squad was dispatched to launch simultaneous assaults on parliament, Nato bases and Western embassies after two months of painstaking discussions on tactics.

"Our military experts sketched maps of the targets and also created a mock-up of them where fighters carried out practice before carrying out the large-scale operations in four provinces," Mujahid said in a phone interview.

"The fighters also learned how to enter their targets and hold them."

His account could not be independently verified.

Special training

Heavy street fighting between militants and security forces in the centre of the Afghan capital ended on Monday after 18 hours of gunfire, rocket attacks and explosions that bore strong similarities with an operation last year.

In both assaults, insurgents occupied high-rise construction sites to use as firebases after smuggling weapons into central Kabul past police checkpoints.

The battles that broke out at midday on Sunday gripped the city's central districts into the evening and through the night, with blasts and gunfire lighting up alleys and streets before Afghan special forces soldiers backed by Nato helicopter gunships killed the insurgents.

Mujahid said the insurgents, who were mostly all killed by security forces, had been selected from among the estimated 50 000 fighters battling Nato and Afghan troops and given special training.

"Ordinary fighters can't obviously carry out these important missions," he said. "The fighters who were assigned for this mission received special training on how to use heavy machine guns, suicide bomb vests and other tactics."

Mujahid said heavy machine guns, rocket grenades and ammunition had been put in place well before the assault with inside help from Afghan security forces, but did not elaborate.

No hope for the future

A witness to the attack in Kabul's diplomatic quarter saw insurgents in a dark blue Prado SUV opening fire on a policeman before entering a building that he had been guarding.

"One Taliban opened fire toward a security guard from a window of the vehicle and another went to a security checkpoint and wounded the man inside, occupying his position," said Ahmad Zeya Azami, aged 29, a car mechanic, who worked next door.

"Five Taliban ran into the building."

Azami said one insurgent targeted the multi-storey Kabul Star Hotel with a rocket-propelled grenade, while another opened fire on the nearby diplomatic quarter.

"I closed our shop and escaped from the area without any wounds. But now everybody is living in fear and losing hope about the future," he said.

Ahmad Farhad, aged 19, another shopkeeper, said the insurgents had appeared calm and very well prepared.

Al-Qaeda blamed

"One went to the police checkpoint and others went into the building in an organised way, like they had seen the area before," Farhad said. "All were wearing traditional clothes, black or grey, and all looked to be aged about 30."

Farhad said the men had been armed with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles, and some had carried bags as they climbed out of a black four-wheel-drive.

Afghan and US officials have blamed the attacks on the al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, based along the porous Afghan-Pakistan mountain border.

Mujahid denied any involvement by the insurgent group, one of the most feared in Afghanistan. The United States has long pressed Pakistan to go after the Haqqani network, which analysts say Islamabad regards as a strategic asset.

Any Haqqani role in the weekend assault would likely further strain relations between Washington and Islamabad.

"The attacks were very successful for us and were a remarkable achievement, dealing a psychological and political blow to foreigners and the government," Mujahid said.

"Although the Haqqanis are part of the Taliban, we did not ask for any help, guidance or support. This is a baseless plot from the West, who wants to show that we are separate."

  • Neutedop - 2012-04-16 16:16

    Imagine Israel doing this......but no - I guess it is okay for a Muslim to kill another Muslim. never mind American or NATO soldier, the shoot a rocket at a hotel full of other Muslims, and kill Muslim police. But no-one will say anything about that - as long as a Israeli soldier does not hit a protester with his gun.

  • wesleywt - 2012-04-16 16:19

    All that rehearsing. And nothing really was achieved. Thats the problem with terrorism, it can only terrorize. Without the support of the people, they will not achieve anything.

      Fred - 2012-04-16 19:31

      Well said

  • Vuyo - 2012-04-16 16:31

    Who is a terrorost here . America should let people determine their future without interference .

      Koos - 2012-04-16 16:40

      Just a question - - I need to understand something. If the Afghan people are left to determine their own future, would you see it in a democracy with human rights or run by a certain religious group without equal rigts to all?

      jowza1 - 2012-04-16 16:52

      Koos,let them decide for themselves.

      Fred - 2012-04-16 19:21

      Clearly you can't tell a terrorist from a freedom fighter.

  • Rob - 2012-04-16 17:04

    Go Taliban.....Go Afghan ! Do it for Alha !

      Lee - 2012-04-16 17:57

      Bit of a silly comment. All the Taliban in the attack are dead. NO ISAF troops got involved, only a ISAF helicopter. It was an Afgan security forces led operation in which they killed all those held up in the buildings. The Afgan police lost a couple of blokes. So who was doing it for Allah. As only the dead Afgan police are with him. The taliban are in hell. Massive failure once again on behalf of the taliban. Meanwhile back in Afgan life is back to normal with a big pat on the back for the Afgan security forces in killing all the attackers.

  • tshivhombelaf - 2012-04-16 17:20

    War is not a picnic and it goes beyond religion. How many Christians kill other Christians everyday?

      wesleywt - 2012-04-16 17:53

      How many then... Waiting for an answer.

  • Fred - 2012-04-16 19:21

    For breaks they stoned women to death

  • tshivhombelaf - 2012-04-16 20:04

    The concept terrorism is always interpreted to suit the mindset of the interpreter. We always read of Talibans as \terrorists\ and were they also referred to as terrorists when backed by USA during Afghan-Soviet War in the late 80's. The interpretation of the world always reflects its double standard nature.

      Fred - 2012-04-16 21:58

      It's not as simple and general as that. You have to look at the intentions behind the actions. The Soviet Union with its oppressive Communist ideology and system of government was a real threat to human freedom and evolution. It was the greater threat at the time. Safety and security is the most basic of human needs and motivators. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and was bearing down on Western Europe. The freer world backed the Afghani freedom fighters against this looming threat, and succeeded. The vacuum that was left from the Soviet invasion was filled by the likes of Osama Bin Ladin and his now-dead brethren who had their own twisted intentions followed with real action to dominate the freer world, oppress women and curtail human freedom. The Taliban stone women to death and impose an extremely oppressive way of life on Afghan society. It must be said however, that Al-Quaida are rogues to boot. They kidnap and behead for money as well. Islamic Jihadists plant car bombs and carry out suicide attacks that have killed hundreds of thousands of mainly Muslim civilians in the Middle East fueled by their intention to prevent human evolution and maintain their oppressive grip on Muslim communities. The intentions of the freer works are enshrined in their constitutions. Not perfect, but without doubt freer.

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