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Sunday, November 13

Taliban attack on Germany's consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif was very serious

One of nine photos Reuters published of the attack site

A member of Afghan security force investigates at the site of an explosion near the German consulate office in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan November 11, 2016.
Photo : REUTERS/ Anil Usyan

German's Foreign Minister was frank about the seriousness of attack, which the consulate's defenders were lucky to hold off until the cavalry arrived. 

Again and again during the past year Long War Journal has warned in the strongest terms that the Taliban have been evolving into a crack fighting force. (LWJ Bill Roggio's retort to the U.S. command's oft-repeated claim that the Taliban aren't the Marines: "They don't need to be.")  

See LWJ's report on the attack, which includes background on similar Taliban attacks this year. The following account is from Reuters, which annoyingly keeps wandering from the action, so I'll highlight passages that relate to the actual attack.

Taliban storm German consulate in Afghan city, four killed
By Abdul Matin (Mazar-i-Sharif) and Sabine Siebold (Berlin)
November 11, 2016 - 12:46 PM EST

[See website for video report and more photos]

Taliban militants stormed the German consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, ramming its outer wall with a truck bomb before battling security forces in an overnight attack that killed at least four people, officials said.

The explosion caused extensive damage to the building
, a NATO spokesman said, but Germany indicated on Friday this would not deter it from continuing its work as part of the international mission in Afghanistan.

Triggered by a suicide bomber, the blast shattered windows as far as 5 km (3 miles) away, NATO said. A local doctor said it and the subsequent firefight also wounded 120 people.

Twenty consular staff survived the attack with no injuries, German officials said.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said soldiers had had to battle hard to repel the heavily armed attackers.

"It was only possible to ... beat them back after fighting that occurred at the compound and in the building,"
he said, adding that Berlin would review its lead role in northern Afghanistan.

His spokesman Martin Schaefer later said he did not expect a big policy shift.

"I cannot imagine that the events of last night will lead to a fundamental change in Germany's thinking or that of the global community on the need for continued assistance for Afghanistan," Schaefer told reporters.

The attack also highlights one of the tougher policy challenges facing U.S. President-elect Donald Trump when he takes office in January.

U.S. combat operations against the Taliban largely ended in 2014, but thousands of its soldiers remain in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission.

Germany, which heads Resolute Support in northern Afghanistan, has about 800 soldiers at a base on the outskirts of Mazar-i-Sharif, with another 1,000 troops coming from 20 partner countries.

The explosion occurred about an hour before midnight local time, a spokesman for the German military joint forces command in Potsdam said.

"It was a prepared attack for which we made all arrangements,"
the Taliban's Mujahid said, adding that dozens of German soldiers and intelligence personnel were killed in the attack.

The Taliban often exaggerate casualties caused by its operations.

Sayed Kamal Sadat, police chief of Balkh province, said the fighting was over by the early hours of the morning after Afghan special forces, German security personnel and NATO's quick reaction protection force intervened.

At least one suspect was arrested from the area of explosion, officials said.

The heavily protected consulate is in a large building close to the Blue Mosque in the center of Mazar-i-Sharif
, where the Indian consulate was also attacked by militant gunmen earlier this year. 

[See LWJ report, linked above, for a review of the attack on the Indian consulate]

(Additional reporting by Andrea Shalal in BERLIN, James Mackenzie, Mirwais Harooni and Hamid Shalizi in KABUL, and Jibran Ahmad in PESHAWAR; Writing by Andrea Shalal; Editing by John Stonestreet)



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