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Taliban Hotel Attack: Low Death Toll, High Psychological Value

Taliban Hotel Attack: Low Death Toll, High Psychological Value is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

By Scott Stewart

At about 10 p.m. on June 28, a group of heavily armed militants attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan. According to government and media reports, the attack team consisted of eight or nine militants who were reportedly wearing suicide vests in addition to carrying other weapons. At least three of the attackers detonated their vests during the drawn-out fight. Afghan security forces, assisted by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), needed some eight hours to clear the hotel of attackers. One group of militants even worked their way up to the roof of the hotel, where they fired several rocket-propelled grenades.

The attack resulted in the deaths of 12 people, as well as all the militants. The Taliban had a different take on the attack, posting a series of statements on their website claiming responsibility and saying the assault was conducted by eight operatives who killed 90 people and that the real news of their success was being suppressed. (Initially, the Taliban claimed to have killed 200 in the attack but reduced the toll to 90 in later statements.)

NATO and ISAF spokesmen have noted their belief that, due to the location and use of suicide bombers in the attack, the Haqqani network was involved in the operation. On the evening of June 29, a NATO airstrike killed Ismail Jan, a senior Haqqani leader in Afghanistan who NATO claims was involved in planning the hotel attack. Read the rest of this entry »

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