Kabul raid shows Taliban's strength, tests Afghan security coordination
While last night's deadly suicide raid on Kabul's InterContinental Hotel showcased Taliban capabilities, early details also indicate some success in the new model of having Afghan forces take more of a lead on security.
New Delhi; and Kabul, Afghanistan
An overnight Taliban raid on a famous hotel in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, has killed seven civilians and two police and was designed to undermine confidence in the upcoming handover of security from international to Afghan forces.Skip to next paragraph
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The raid ended at 8:00 a.m. Wednesday morning local time with the self-detonation of the ninth and final suicide bomber, according to interior ministry and Taliban sources. That final blast killed two policemen and a Spanish civilian.
The attack highlights the Taliban’s strength at penetrating security in Kabul, which is one of seven areas slated to be handed over to Afghan security next month. National and foreign representatives had converged on Kabul for a conference today on that transition. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says that meeting was a primary reason for the assault on the InterContinental Hotel as well as the fact the hotel houses foreign advisers.
While the raid showcased Taliban capabilities, it also put to the test Afghan and international coordination that will be necessary after next month’s handovers. Early details indicate some success for the model of putting Afghans on the front line, embedding trainers with those units, and calling for help when needed.
“Yesterday it looked to me that it worked rather effectively,” says Thomas Ruttig with the Afghanistan Analysts Network in Kabul. “But Kabul, of course, is probably better than other parts of the country. It depends how good the people on both sides are.”
Afghan forces take the lead
The attack began with a suicide bombing at a side gate to the hotel, killing police there and avoiding heavier security along the main entrance, according to Mr. Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman who says he maintained phone contact with the fighters during the raid.
“They went through all the hotel, opening the doors of each room and killing the people,” says Mujahid.
Afghan police and special forces led the response to the assault, which began late Tuesday night. They cut power to the hotel in order to plunge the militants into darkness.