Gunmen disguised as U.S. military personnel and wearing explosives-laden suicide vests engaged Afghan security forces in a two-hour siege of the national police headquarters in Kabul on Wednesday, U.S. and Afghan officials announced. One responding Afghan police officer was killed and five were wounded, the Washington Post reports.
A brazen assault: An Afghan government spokesman said the eight-man raiding party attempted to storm the Afghan Interior Ministry on May 30 after detonating a car bomb at the facility gates, according to the Washington Post, which added that, "as in such attacks in the past, the blast paved the way for the other attackers to get inside the vast compound."
They were wearing U.S. military gear. U.S. Forces Afghanistan commander Gen. John Nicholson told reporters during a May 30 press conference that the attackers were wearing "old-style" U.S. Army uniforms and driving a captured Humvee. "The good news," he said, "is that the guards at the gate, the Afghan guards, immediately recognized these as old uniforms, called on the terrorists to exit the vehicle so they could be checked out, and at that point the fighting started."
Somebody blew their load early. Nicholson told reporters that many of the attackers were killed when one detonated his suicide vest prematurely, taking out some of his "colleagues" as they were mounting their initial assault. "They never gained entrance to the MOI headquarters," Nicholson said. "The crisis response... quickly reacted and killed all these terrorists before they could gain entrance to MOI."
No militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet. Nicholson told reporters that U.S. officials "believe" the Taliban's Haqqani network offshoot was responsible for the attack, as the use of Army uniforms "tracks with their tactics in the past." No group has claimed responsibility yet, including the Taliban, which offered a separate statement the same day dismissing Pentagon claims of a 50-kill strike in a separate part of the country as "propaganda."
This isn't the first time this has happened and it certainly won't be the last. Back in August 2011, Afghan national security forces uncovered "a large military uniform-making factory," ostensibly used Haqqani insurgents to conduct urban attacks posing as Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police personnel, as in the assault on the Ministry of Defense that April. A 2012 Haqqani sizzle reel showed a gaggle of fighters decked out in U.S. Army uniforms; in 2017, the deadliest attack in the war in Afghanistan killed nearly 100 Afghan security personnel at a northern Army base, thanks to suicide bombers in military uniforms.
The silver lining, according to Nicholson? "We don’t, at this time, do not believe it was an ISIS attack." So there's that, I guess.
In this March 12, 2016, file photo, Marines of the U.S., left, and South Korea, wearing blue headbands on their helmets, take positions after landing on a beach during the joint military combined amphibious exercise, called Ssangyong, part of the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises, in Pohang, South Korea. (Associated Press/Yonhap/Kim Jun-bum)
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