Is the Taliban targeting foreign soldiers?

  • 19/08/2012

By 3 News online staff

A New Zealand journalist in Kabul says the soldiers killed could be part of a Taliban plan to oust foreigners from Afghanistan.

Jon Stephenson told Firstline that it is very likely that the Taliban were responsible for yesterday’s attack in Bamiyan Province which killed three New Zealand soldiers.

“They often [claim responsibility] even when they’re not responsible but this appears to be a fairly accurate claim.”

The chief of the Bamiyan police also believes the Taliban committed the attack and he says the group of insurgents are from the Baghlan province, which borders Bamiyan Province.

“It appears, based on what he said, that the Taliban insurgents have crossed the border to conduct this attack,” Mr Stephenson says.

But he says the Taliban seem to have exaggerated the number of fatalities.

“They claim they killed 12 foreign soldiers that were riding on what they described as a tank.”

Mr Stephenson says the Taliban have also said they are doubling their attempts to oust foreign soldiers whose countries contribute to the coalition from Afghanistan.

“There’s some suggestion, speculation at this stage which hasn’t been confirmed, that Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, has recently called on… the public of those countries to pressure the governments to withdraw troops, just like the French public did after the deaths of five French soldiers earlier this year in a province near Kabul.”

Bamiyan governor Dr Habiba Sarabi says there have been some problems with security in the area.

“The security is not good in some areas, not the whole Bamiyan, the whole Bamiyan security is good, some places are not good.”

Mr Stephenson says it sounds like the vehicle involved in the incident was a light armoured vehicle or tank and the bomb which exploded on it was probably quite large.

“That armoured vehicle… was totally destroyed by accounts that we are receiving, so clearly a very large bomb.”

Both the International Security Assistance Force and the New Zealand Defence Force have described the bomb as an improvised explosive device (IED) and Mr Stephenson believes there was more than one device present at the incident and personnel action prevented more tragedy.

“It appears it was only one of two or more IEDs… The New Zealand Defence Force personnel that were attacked today at around 9.20 in the morning stopped their vehicles and did a search and stopped and found and diffused a further IED. If they hadn’t done that it’s very likely that this morning we would be getting considerably more than three fatalities. Good work in that sense and very likely that we’ve averted a major disaster today, although sadly three fatalities is three too many.”

Mr Stephenson says there is a number of different ways an IED can be activated, but it is unclear what type of IED was used in this incident.

“The main ways that they are set off or initiated is by electronic devices. It can be anything as simple as a garage door opener, or a mobile phone. They can also be exploded by a command wire, a wire that goes from the bomb, usually it’s buried so can’t be seen, and can travel as much as 100m or more to where the insurgent is sitting and he initiates the bomb when he believes the target he wants to attack has reached the place where the bomb is. There are also bombs that are set off indiscriminately. They are plate pressure IEDs. As soon as enough pressure is applied to the mechanism for the bomb the bomb goes off.”

The identities of the soldiers who died have not yet been released, but it is believed one of them was a woman.

Watch the video for the full interview with Jon Stephenson.

3 News


source: newshub archive