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Kabul: Taliban attack on Presidential Palace…

June 25, 2013

By Tim Foxley

Summary: Taliban small arms and bomb attack against the  presidential palace – media impact moderate, combat impact low?

kabul attack 25 June 2013The Taliban have claimed an attack initiated against the heavily guarded centre of Kabul that took place earlier this morning (approx 06.30 Kabul time).  The Presidential palace, an Afghan Defence Ministry building and reportedly a CIA compound were involved in the 40 – 50 minute exchange, beginning with a car bomb detonation, followed up with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.  All insurgents – perhaps a handful of attackers – reported killed, other casualties appear low (I’m hearing 3 Afghan security guards killed at the moment).  It does not appear that the palace grounds were breached and BBC reports that President Karzai was believed to be 700 metres or so away, within the palace grounds.

BBC report the following:

BBC News: Militants have attacked the presidential palace and government buildings in the Afghan capital, Kabul.  More than half a dozen explosions were heard as they clashed with security personnel at the palace’s eastern gate, the defence ministry and a CIA station.  The police said all of the attackers were killed. The Taliban said they carried out the assault…The attack near the presidential palace, in the central district of Shash Darak, began at about 06:30 local time (02:00 GMT).  The militants initially targeted the palace’s eastern gate – a few hundred metres from the actual building – where dozens of journalists had gathered for a news conference with Mr Karzai scheduled for 09:00.


This from Sky:

Sky News: Suicide attackers fought security forces for around an hour and blew up a car bomb outside Afghanistan’s presidential palace after infilitrating one of Kabul’s most secure areas.   Fighting also took place nearby at the Afghan Ministry of Defence and the former Ariana Hotel, which is used by the CIA.   The Taliban, which several days ago was preparing for peace talks with the US, claimed responsibility for the attack and suggested all three buildings had been targeted.   The assault, in the central Shash Darak district, took place at around 6.30am local time.   Police said three or four gunmen jumped out of a vehicle and opened fire after being stopped by security forces trying to use fake documents to get through a checkpoint.

Analysis and Outlook

It is perhaps a bad habit to dive into analysis while the smoke is literally still rising.  My view on these kind of Taliban attacks have shifted slightly over the last year or so – this is a standard Taliban set-piece from their playbook for getting media attention.  But the propaganda, military and political returns seems to be diminishing each year.  The initial media reports have understandably focused on the media/propaganda value – “most significant attack since the Taliban were thrown out in 2001”.  In the context of the recent confusion over “talks” in Qatar, it perhaps shows Taliban determination not to appear weak – and “talking while fighting” (or, perhaps, simply “fighting”?) appears to remain the most likely condition for the time being.

I am less confident that the Taliban are gaining much from these attacks nowadays – although, clearly, the risk of a random shell hitting a high value political or military target should not be overlooked.  Kabul security forces, it seems, can be breached in the sense of a city cordon can be penetrated (inefficiencies or collusion?), but that it seems the compound/palace defences succeeded in their role of acting as a trip wire and the objective (I am assuming the palace was the target)  was, as a result, not penetrated.

I’ll see what the Taliban say about this and see what other information comes in…

One Comment leave one →
  1. permalink
    June 25, 2013 9:52 am

    Haven’t heard about your stats for a while now 😉


    Jun 25, 2013 kl. 9:46 AM skrev afghanhindsight :

    > >

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