Kabul, 3 eastern provinces, hit by coordinated Taliban attacks
It's the start of the annual Taliban "spring offensive" but this one appears to have been pretty audacious. The enemy attacked the capital city of Kabul and 3 eastern provinces with many coordinated attacks that included suicide bombers and well planned ambushes.
Taliban suicide bombers and gunmen barraged the diplomatic quarter and the Parliament in the Afghan capital for hours on Sunday and struck at least three eastern provinces as well, in a complex attack clearly designed to undermine confidence in NATO and Afghan military gains.
Though the overall death toll was low, with only six victims reported across four provinces, they were among the most audacious coordinated terrorist attacks here in recent years. More than 10 hours after the initial explosions, there was still sporadic gunfire in the capital, Kabul. The police kept parts of the city cordoned off, and the airport was closed to traffic, underscoring that although the attackers were relatively few in number, they could hold buildings for hours, disrupt normal life and terrify residents.
The attacks came during the peak of the American military troop "surge" in Afghanistan, much of it designed around ensuring the security of the capital. And it was an early test for the Afghan National Security Forces, who responded with only minimal help from NATO, Western military officials said.
"No one is underestimating the seriousness of today's attacks," Gen. John R. Allen, the NATO commander, said in a statement. "Each attack was meant to send a message: that legitimate governance and Afghan sovereignty are in peril. The A.N.S.F. response itself is proof enough of that folly."
The attacks undermine the success of the "surge" that cleared the Taliban out of some of the areas where they launched attacks. The gunfights in Kabul occurred near the Parliament building and the diplomatic quarter -- two of the best protected areas in Afghanistan. Clearly, the Taliban was sending a message that no one is safe.
Western officials are fingering the Haqqani network who seem to be the most organized of the Taliban units at this point. The Afghan units deployed to meet the challenge apparently performed adequately, if not spectacularly. If any good news can come out of the attacks, that would seem to be it.