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Panjshir suicide attack: Taliban ideas running low part II…

May 29, 2013

By Tim Foxley

Summary: What looks to be a failed suicide attack by the Taliban into the Panjshir valley raising more questions about Taliban capabilities, planning and Spring Offensives… 

panjshir-blast-29-may-13This story just breaking today:

KABUL: Afghan security forces killed six suicide bombers who attacked the Panjshir provincial governor’s office early Wednesday, officials said, in an assault on one of the most stable areas of the country.

“Six suicide bombers wearing police uniform entered the governor’s office. Our security team responded and all, except one who detonated himself, were brought down,” Abdul Kabir Waseq, the governor’s spokesman, told AFP. (AFP)

In my previous post, I suggested that the Taliban might be running out of ideas.  Here, although details are slowly being fleshed out regarding the attack, seems to be another case in point.  Security forces are perhaps trained for this sort of attack above all else these days.  The only slight “creative” aspect for the Taliban perspective, is the fact that this attack is deep into the Panjshir valley, the heartland of the Tajiks and legendary for Ahmed Shah Massoud, “the Lion of the Panjshir” and his defence of the Panjshir valley during the 1980s against numerous Soviet operations.  Some symbolic significance, maybe, but it is far too early to say if this heralds a Taliban attempt to destabilise Afghanistan by targeting a specific (and powerful) ethnic group.  In Taliban media messaging, they generally try to appeal to the former Mujahideen – the Panjshir valley would generally be seen as symbolic custodian of that important legacy.  Ahmed Rashid recently said it was encouraging that the Taliban were apparently talking to key ethnic groups, like the Tajiks.  It now simply easier for the Taliban to target local government in the provinces with their complex attacks, rather than heavily defended Kabul?

The Long War Journal notes:

While the attack wasn’t effective from a military standpoint (one policeman killed versus six suicide bombers), the propaganda effects are enormous. The Taliban and its allies are continuing to show the Afghan people that is is capable of conducting strikes in all corners of Afghanistan.

But I am not so sure.  I have recognised the media value of many previous Taliban attacks in the past.   But they are still plugging the same line and security forces are getting better prepared for it.  And, unless casualties are really high (Iraq recently) or the target really significant, it is highly possible that the world’s press might find it all a little, well, boring…

The attack might seem an embarrassment for the Taliban.  Lets wait and see what they have to say about it beyond simply claiming it.

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