Aftermath of assault by Taliban at Kandahar airbase (Image via Sky News)
The Taliban in Afghanistan launched a fierce assault on Kandahar International Airport using 14 “mujahideen” fighters which continued for over 24 hours after it began. The large complex is located 10 miles south-east of Kandahar City and contains one of the largest military bases in Afghanistan as well as serving civilians. AP reported that according to Samim Khopalwaq, the spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor, the Taliban targeted the facility’s main gate on Tuesday evening. Latest casualty figures released by the Afghan ministry of defence to Military Times claimed 38 people were killed, 37 civilians and one Afghan army soldier. This could not be independently confirmed, figures are not always accurate with Islamic Emirate claiming the state uses “propaganda” and lies” regarding reports on internal conflict. Islamic Emirate and supporters give another account of figures.
Habibullah Helal reporting from inside Afghanistan tweeted an image of the site with the words,
Helal later tweeted.
Flash: Pictures of Mujahideen stormed
#Kandahar air field killing 150 invaders / puppets. tense fighting ongoing
Some of the fighters allegedly involved in Kandahar attack
Abdulqahar Balkhi an account affiliated with the Taliban initially tweeted that an attack was carried out on Monday evening at a police station in PD9 of Kandahar city which involved fighters dressed in police uniform and lasted until 11pm. Details of alleged deaths are included in the statement. The report read, “officials say that an interview has been conducted with the 2 martyrdom seekers that came back alive and their testimony about the incident will be published soon” see following link,
“Enemy suffers heavy losses in Kandahar martyr attack”
Balkhi later tweeted,
Mujahid via phone says another enemy offensive repelled at 3pm, enemy used phosphorous but did not harm Mujahidin, more later
It appeared Kandahar was not the only area to be targeted, Balkhi also tweeted
Jafar Haand tweeted,
Ahmadullah Faizi, director of Kandahar airport told AFP news agency that some passengers were trapped inside a terminal, they were waiting to fly to India and were some distance from the fighting. Security forces were proceeding cautiously in other areas where hostages including women and children were alleged to have been taken according to Sky News. There were reports from Taliban sources that aircraft had been destroyed
As the “Heart of Asia” conference got underway in Islamabad, attended by President Ashraf Ghani (Afghanistan) and President Nawaz Sharif (Pakistan) alongside other other key regional leaders, the security situation in the region looked grim. Ghani said, “I don’t believe in blame games, but for the sake of peace and harmony, all regional countries must work together against all terrorist groups.” (There has been longstanding tensions between the two countries.) However the Taliban had another message,
Sabiq Jihadmal tweeted.
One of the attackers with a warning to President Obama
A video showed 10 Taliban fighters dressed in white in front of their flag as the spokesperson delivered his message first in Pashto, then English waving a knife. He stated, “it is my suggestion from Obama. Obama, you are not safe in Afghanistan. When you are go anywhere, we will kill them there. We will finish your technology and kill your power.”
News of the Taliban attack overshadowed the Heart of Asia conference. India & Pakistan released a joint statement in Express Tribune saying,
“both sides, accordingly, agreed to a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue and directed the foreign secretaries to work out the modalities and schedule of the meetings under the dialogue including peace and security, CBMs, Jammu & Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, economic and commercial Cooperation, counter-terrorism, narcotics control and humanitarian issues, people to people exchanges and religious tourism,”
The rhetoric sounds promising however ground realities show that achieving meaningful steps towards the stated goals will be extremely challenging given the current instability and security problems within the region.
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Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”