Afghan Taliban says rehearsed attack for two months

(Reuters) РThe insurgents who mounted weekend attacks in central Kabul and other parts ofAfghanistan carefully rehearsed for months, even building small military-style models and pre-positioning weapons, a Taliban spokesman said on Monday.

Zabihullah Mujahid provided Reuters with a rare insight into how the group plans strategic high-profile attacks designed to deal a psychological blow to U.S.-led NATO forces and their allies in the Afghan security forces.

In the latest, a 30-member suicide squad was dispatched to launch simultaneous assaults on parliament, NATO bases and Western embassies after two months of painstaking discussions on tactics.

“Our military experts sketched maps of the targets and also created a mock-up of them where fighters carried out practice before carrying out the large-scale operations in four provinces,” Mujahid said in a phone interview.

“The fighters also learned how to enter their targets and hold them.”

His account could not be independently verified.

Heavy street fighting between militants and security forces in the centre of the Afghan capital ended on Monday after 18 hours of gunfire, rocket attacks and explosions that bore strong similarities with an operation last year.

In both assaults, insurgents occupied high-rise construction sites to use as firebases after smuggling weapons into central Kabul past police checkpoints.

The battles that broke out at midday on Sunday gripped the city’s central districts into the evening and through the night, with blasts and gunfire lighting up alleys and streets before Afghan special forces soldiers backed by NATO helicopter gunships killed the insurgents.

Mujahid said the insurgents, who were mostly all killed by security forces, had been selected from among the estimated 50,000 fighters battling NATO and Afghan troops and given special training.

“Ordinary fighters can’t obviously carry out these important missions,” he said. “The fighters who were assigned for this mission received special training on how to use heavy machine guns, suicide bomb vests and other tactics.”

 

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