struck the gates of Kabul airport on Monday morning, January 4th. The driver's suicide vest went off but the explosives in the truck did not. (Reuters, Jan 4, 2016). A second truck bomb attack took place later in the day in the vicinity of the airport - near a contractor's compound. Some reports say that this was Camp Baron. The Baron Hotel in Kabul (one mile from the international airport) is a nice place to live as a contractor (or visitor) if you can afford it. Other reports say it was Camp Sullivan - a location that houses U.S. embassy employees and security personnel. Read more on these attacks in "Taliban claim suicide attack on contractor camp in Kabul", Yahoo! News, January 5, 2016.
U.S. Embassy Low-Balling Compound Damage? The second truck bomb caused extensive structural damage against the outer wall and inside wall of the compound. Over 30 people were injured including nine children. There were also a number of deaths - but the U.S. embassy seems to be mum about the entire incident. Read more in "Is the U.S. Embassy in Kabul the next Benghazi?", Project on Government Oversight (POGO), January 7, 2016.
Bombed French Restaurant Update. See "Taliban target was a pricey French restaurant, but their victims were Afghans", Los Angeles Times, January 2, 2016.
Winter Offensive. "Afghanistan's mountainous terrain and heavy snowfall have traditionally prompted a winter lull in fighting, with the militants using the colder months to rest and regroup ahead of an annual spring offensive". Frud Bezhan tells us about the Taliban's fighting during the 'winter lull' in "The Taliban's Rare Winter Offensive in Afghanistan", Radio Free Europe, January 8, 2016.
Map of Taliban Control. The year 2015 saw the Taliban controlling more territory than at any other time in the 14 year long conflict (U.S. involvement) since 2001. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have been pummeled by the insurgents and significant areas of Afghanistan are now under Taliban control. Read more in "Mapped: The Taliban Surged in 2015, but ISIS is Moving In on Its Turf", Foreign Policy, January 4, 2016.
Mi-17 Crash. On Sunday, January 3rd an Afghan Air Force (AAF) Mi-17 helicopter crashed south of Kabul killing 3 Afghan soldiers. The crash took place in the Mohammad Agha district of Logar province. Reports indicate that the chopper was on a training day time flight. (Pajhwok Afghan News, Jan 3, 2016).
General's Convoy Attacked. A convoy carrying a German general was hit in a suicide car-bomb attack near the Kabul airport this past Monday. (Daily Mail, Jan 4, 2016).
Helmand Province. The 215th Maiwand Military Corps commander, MG Mohammad Moin Faqir, says that the security situation in Helmand should improve slowly over time. He says that widespread poppy cultivation and drug trafficking fuels insecurity and provides revenue to the Taliban. The general says that recent operations helped secure several of the provinces districts to include Marjah. Representatives of the Afghan Local Police dispute this claim saying the road from the provincial capital to the district of Marjah is not secured. Read more in "Helmand security to improve soon, says military commander", Pajhwok Afghan News, January 8, 2016.
Provincial HPC Chief Shot Dead. Qari Saifuddin Sadat, the chief of the High Peace Council for the northern province of Samangan was killed on Tuesday, January 5th.
Celebration Fires. On January 6th Kabul erupted with lots of weapons firing into the air on the occasion of the Afghan cricket team defeating Zimbabwe. There seems to be a lack of understanding of what goes up will eventually come down. Some good ammo wasted that could have been better used at some police district centers in Helmand province.
IS & Taliban Fight. Three districts of Nangarhar province are seeing intense fighting between groups of the Islamic State and the Taliban. The usual winter break in the fighting is not being observed very well this year.
Special Anti-IS Force. The Afghan army is forming up a special battalion (kandak) comprised of about 750 former Afghan army members to fight the Islamic State in the eastern part of Afghanistan. They will be based at the 201st Corps headquarters in Laghman province. The base is just a few klics from the Nangarhar province border - where IS is operating. (Voice of America, Jan 6, 2016).
Indian Consulate Attacked in MeS. The consulate for India was attacked in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif on January 3, 2016. No Indian fatalities were reported among the staff and it appears the gunmen were unsuccessful in breaching the security of the consulate. It took a few days for Afghan commandos to dislodge some of the attackers from a house near the consulate compound. All three attackers were killed as well as one (maybe two) Afghan policeman. Some reports say there were four attackers and that the incident lasted 25 hours; not a few days. See "Siege Ends Near Indian Consulate in Northern Afghanistan", Gandhara Blog, January 5, 2016.
Taliban Review 2015. The Taliban has disseminated what some are calling a progress report on its 2015 activities. Read more in "Taliban Claims Large Swath of Afghan Territory During 2015", Voice of America, January 2, 2016.