Afghan defence minister says Jaish, Taliban behind attack on Afghanistan military base
A group of heavily armed terrorists wearing military uniforms, including suicide bombers, stormed the Shorab base in Helmand province, which also has US troops, before dawn on March 1.Updated: Mar 05, 2019 07:47 IST
A deadly assault on one of Afghanistan’s largest military bases, which killed 26 troops last week, was planned in Pakistan and jointly carried out by the Taliban and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Afghan defence minister Asadullah Khalid said on Monday.
“There were suicide bombers from the Taliban and Jaish-e-Mohammed, with direct links (to Pakistan), and the attack was planned across the Durand Line,” Khalid, a former head of the Afghan domestic intelligence agency, was quoted as saying by Tolo News.
A group of heavily armed terrorists wearing military uniforms, including suicide bombers, stormed the Shorab base in Helmand province, which also has US troops, before dawn on March 1. The attack began with a bomber blowing up an explosives-laden vehicle at the main gate so that the others could enter the fortified compound.
The Taliban had earlier claimed the attack.
Khalid did not provide details regarding the involvement of the JeM, which carried out the Pulwama suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops last month.
This was the Taliban’s third attempt to take over the base, earlier known as Camp Bastion to British troops and Camp Leatherneck to US forces. At least nine attackers, including three suicide bombers, were also killed before Afghan forces stopped the assault after more than 30 hours of fighting.
The JeM has had close ties with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan for close to two decades and there have been several reports of Jaish fighters taking part in operations alongside the Taliban.
In January 2016, JeM fighters had attempted to assault the Indian consulate in the Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif at the same time that members of the group had targeted the Pathankot airbase in India.
Three terrorists who stormed a large house from which they targeted the consulate left two messages written in blood on the walls of a room in which they were holed up. Both messages were in broken Urdu and one described the attack as “revenge for Afzal Guru”, hanged for his role in the 2001 Parliament attack.
At the time Indian security officials had said the JeM’s affinity to Afzal Guru was understandable as he was convicted for the Parliament attack, which was blamed on the group based at Bahawalpur in Pakistan’s Punjab province.