Afghanistan – On June 10, the Taliban attacked Kabul International Airport again. The airport was attacked by seven Taliban gunmen, who seized a building under construction that overlooks the airport. Kabul International Airport was subsequently placed under a well-coordinated assault where two suicide bombs were detonated, and five other gunmen attacked using small arms, grenades and remote propelled grenades (RPGs). All flights into and out of the airport were ceased.
There have been several significant attacks launched by the Taliban in 2013, including:
· January 16 – A suicide attack on the Afghanistan Directorate of Security
· January 21- An attack on the Traffic Police HQ
· March 15- An attack on the Defense Ministry
· April 28- The Taliban announce their “Spring Offensive”
· May 1- Three British soldiers die in a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) thought to be the largest of its kind
· May 24- The Taliban launch an attack near the Afghan Intelligence Agency
· June 10- An attack on Kabul International Airport
· June 12- A suicide attack on Afghan Supreme Court members
The Taliban appear to be able to attack targets in the capital of Kabul at will, with no significant security to stop them. The attack on June 10 was an ambitious attack against a well-guarded airport, but it was reported that the attackers wore Afghan Border Police uniforms to blend in prior to the assault. Taliban spokesmen claimed responsibility for the operation and said that it was part of their spring offensive. With the success and propaganda from this attack, it can be expected that more of this type of attack will follow in the weeks and months to come. There will be concern within the international community and NATO as to the ability of the Afghan security force to secure its own capital as NATO prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan next year. NATO commanders are certain to be questioning how the Taliban fighters managed to get so close to the airport, which is the only military airfield available to NATO.
On June 12, the Taliban again attacked a central target in Kabul. A suicide attack on the Supreme Court shows that the Taliban has no problem attacking high-level targets. The explosive vehicle was driven at a bus carrying court staff, including judges. Taliban spokesmen state that the group targeted Supreme Court staff because the Afghan Supreme Court obeyed “Western powers.” This latest attack again shows that the Afghan security forces are still not able to defend key Afghan government establishments and their staff.
Pakistan – On June 13, militants attacked three NATO containers in the Shagai area of Tehsil Jamrud of the north-western Kyber tribal region on the Afghan border. Khyber is among Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal districts near the Afghan border that are host to a number of militant groups. In what is reported to have been a well-planned operation, the attackers wore local police uniforms and fired rockets at the NATO vehicles. If more of these attacks occur, they will put pressure on NATO logistics as the organization prepares to draw down from its operation in Afghanistan.
Paul Ashley is the Senior Counter-Terrorist Analyst