Is the Taliban targeting foreign soldiers?
Mon, 20 Aug 2012 10:32a.m.
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.
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20/08/2012 6:10:58 p.m.
GREG I think it is you that needs to read history. You are talking like an insecure coward happy that others die just so you can feel safe at home with your children. This is making NZ more of a target than ever. Since you are so up on History can you tell me just how many attacks on NZ have been carried out by the Taliban? Man, so stupid, we have been fighting for thousands of years yet we still feel it is the only way for peace??? What do they say is the first sign of madness! Keep doing the same things but expect a different result!
20/08/2012 3:18:22 p.m.
All very well for people to say keep sending NZ troops over, not so easy if your son is one of those troops. So I have to ask why are we there in the first place? Also, if our government insists on sending our young men and women to fight someone elses war, perhaps it would be prudent to give them access to equipment that will make their jobs safer.Thirdly, in response to "Jimmy"regarding life insurance- a kind thought, but no amount of money would ever ease the pain and anguish of losing my son that way.
20/08/2012 1:17:25 p.m.
This is a case of better there than here. If we worry about casualities for our military forces then we should begin policy transformation of our military into a benign coastal protection force, withdraw from the UN except as a token player and leave the rest of world to solve problems. We cant have it both ways, more people get killed crossing the road & hit by busses without hardly a murmer. I expect a taleban surendure & convert notice for NZ to follow if we pull our troops out early. Its as simple as that people, please study history, appeassing bullies never works, they just makew you a slave.
20/08/2012 11:20:20 a.m.
It would seem a logical offensive by the taliban to target American allies for two reasons - most allies don't have the stomach for multiple soldier deaths and secondly they aren't as well equipped and resourced as the Americans.
I hope these soldiers have a government guaranteed life insurance of $2m to leave to their families if they die in duty - if not, then that is disgusting John Key!
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