Columns

Six U.S. Troops Killed in Taliban Motorcycle Bombing

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Afghanistan Defense Minister Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai delivering a press conference at Forward Operating Base Fenty in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on Dec. 18, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Coronado)

Six U.S. service members were killed today in a suicide attack near Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

Three more members of Operation Resolute Support were injured, according to a statement issued by the U.S.-led NATO mission.

“We’re deeply saddened by this loss,” said Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, Resolute Support deputy chief of staff for communications. “On behalf of General Campbell and all of Resolute Support, our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families and friends of those affected in this tragic incident, especially during this holiday season.”

According to Afghan news sources, the service members were out on a patrol in the Bajawri area at about 1:30 p.m. when a suicide bomber sped up on a motorcycle and detonated his explosives.

The Taliban posted a claim on their website, inflating the death toll as they usually do to 19.

“Zahidullah, a fearless Mujahid part of the martyr unit of the Islamic Emirate slammed his motorbike filled with explosives near a large number of the US invading troops gathered near the Bagram base, blowing as many as 19 American invaders to bits and leaving several others wounded,” read what the Taliban branded a news report of the attack.

“Needless to say the US makes every attempt either to deny or keep a lid on such reports or their fatalities to pull the wool over the nation’s eyes so as to make it appear as if the US invading troops are never at war, that is, not engaged in any of the armed conflicts whereas the US-led forces suffer fatal losses across the country in such attacks, bombings and firefight with Mujahideen combatants,” the Taliban continued.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was just in Jalalabad a few days ago, thanking U.S. troops and holding a press conference with his Afghan counterpart.

“We have made gains that will put Afghanistan on a better path. More work lies ahead, and the national security of both our nations remains very much at stake. But we will succeed,” Carter said Friday. “The Taliban’s advances in some parts of the country, even if only temporary, underscore that this is a tough fight, and it’s far from over. It’s also a dynamic fight.”

Carter was asked about a recent Pentagon report showing a spike in casualties among Afghan forces.

“No doubt about it, there’s been heavy fighting here in Afghanistan over the last year. The — and Afghan security forces have suffered losses,” the Defense secretary said. “And of course that — we — that’s very tragic, and we know how it feels in your heart when you lose countrymen here. We’ve lost many ourselves, and so we honor those Afghan forces that passed.”

“But fundamentally, the reason is that they have been fighting so hard. They have been in the fight, engaged, and performing extremely well in — in inflicting defeats upon the enemy here.”

The Obama administration has been encouraging a political process with Taliban even as the former Sharia rulers of Afghanistan continue bombings and suicide attacks.

A report released this month by the House Armed Services Committee found that the administration misled Congress when it swapped five Taliban detainees for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday on charges of desertion and endangering troops.

The report found “the effort to transfer the Taliban Five was not merely a mechanism to recover a captive U.S. serviceman,” but was part of the administration’s solution of “how to rid the facility of detainees the president’s own designees believed could not be readily sent elsewhere.”

The State Department today confirmed the murder of an American woman, Lisa Akbari, on Sunday in Kabul. “Certainly, we offer our condolences and thoughts and prayers to her family,” press secretary John Kirby told reporters. “And out of respect for the privacy of all those affected, including her family, I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to provide more details.”

Akbari, 24, had been working for the Japan International Cooperation Agency. She was shot by a mullah who reportedly lived in her apartment building. Syed Ahmad was then shot by police and taken into custody.

According to Pajhwok Afghan News, the mullah had ties to militant groups.