Taliban suicide bomber strikes NATO convoy in Kandahar

A Taliban suicide bomber attacked a NATO military convoy as it was traveling in Kandahar City in southern Afghanistan. Resolute Support, NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, confirmed that there were casualties but did not provide the number of soldiers who were wounded or possibly killed in the attack.

The Taliban, in a statement released on its official propaganda website, Voice of Jihad, said that Asadullah Kandahari, a member of its “martyrdom seeking squad,” attacked the convoy after noon local Afghan time as it traveled in Police District 5 of Kandahar City. The Taliban claimed that two “tanks,” which likely are armored HUMVEES, were destroyed in the blast and “15 invaders” were killed.

Resolute Support released a statement confirming that the attack “did cause casualties” and said it would release more details at a later time.

Eyewitnesses told Dawn that at least one armored vehicle was ablaze after the bombing, and several soldiers were seen being evacuated from the scene of the attack.

A Pentagon spokesman later said that two US soldiers were killed but did not provide a number of wounded, Reuters reported.

Today’s assault in Kandahar City is similar one ones carried out by the group in the capital of Kabul and elsewhere. The Taliban identifies convoys as they travel through congested cities and strikes them with a vehicle laden with explosives. The last such attack, on July 24 in Kabul, killed dozens of employees from the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum. In a similar attack, in Kabul in Feb. 2015, targeted the convoy of NATO’s senior diplomat.

The Taliban claims it has thousands of fighters trained to execute suicide bombings. The group has even trained the son of Mullah Haibatullah, the emir of the Afghan Taliban, to carry out an attack. Hafiz Abdul Rahman, Haibatullah’s son, killed himself in a complex suicide attack which targeted Afghan forces in the southern province of Helmand in mid-July.

The Taliban has provided some clues about the organization of its so-called martyrdom units that has conducted operations such as today’s attack in Kandahar. It has identified two key leaders of its “Suicide Groups.” Mullah Taj Mir Jawad has been described as the head of a “martyrdom-seekers battalion,” while Qari Abdul Raouf Zakir, is the “commander” of the Taliban’s suicide groups. Qari Zakir, who was designated as a terrorist by the State Department in Nov. 2012, has long commanded the Haqqani Network’s suicide operations. Additionally, the Taliban has promoted its training camps for suicide bombers.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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