Taliban storm Afghan resort; 18 dead
Just a four man squad - suicide mission, really - and the Afghan army eventually rooted them out. The fact that the US military thinks it was an operation by the Haqqani network shows that the terrorists are becoming bolder the closer we get to the US withdrawal date.
Heavily armed Taliban insurgents stormed into a lakeside hotel north of Kabul and opened fire on guests inside, killing 18 people -- most civilians -- before the 12-hour long rampage ended Friday morning, Afghan officials said.
The brazen attack on a resort where many Afghans go to try to forget about the war was a dramatic reminder of the Taliban's resiliency as insurgents push hard with their summer offensive in a show of strength as U.S.-led forces prepared to withdraw by the end of 2014.
Insurgents first killed the security guards at the hotel, then pushed their way inside and began firing at guests who were having a late-night meal. Some of the guests escaped while others were held hostage as the attackers battled Afghan security forces who rushed to the scene for the next 12 hours.
Kabul police said five attackers had been shot and killed by midday Friday, ending the standoff. The Taliban claimed only four of their fighters were involved in the attack on the Spozhmai hotel at Qargha Lake, a popular weekend retreat about a half-hour drive from the capital.
U.S. Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the attack was likely carried out by fighters loyal to the Haqqani network. The al-Qaida linked group is based in Pakistan and regularly targets Afghan and coalition forces in Afghanistan, and conducts deadly attacks in Kabul.
"This attack bears the signature of the Haqqani network, which continues to target and kill innocent Afghans and blatantly violate Afghan sovereignty from the safety of Pakistan," Allen said, adding that some victims were killed in their sleep.
Pakistan knows where the leadership of this group is, and even where their training camps are. But because they serve Pakistan's strategic interests, the government turns a blind eye to their activities.
The US won't attack them in Pakistan because we are trying to involve the Haqqani network in negotiations with the Karzai government. That idea is proving to be futile as it is costing innocent lives, as well as American ones.
If Pakistan won't address this problem, we should.