What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Friday, July 4, 2008

More details about the Sarpoza attack

The Taliban's attack on the Sarpoza prison in Kandahar last month was more than simply a well-coordinated attack.
Read Graeme Smith's account. I'll highlight here three things.
1. The Taliban were careful (and numerous) enough to tie down all Afghan forces near the prison, to stop them from intervening.
"The first explosions and gunfire erupted around 9:10 p.m., witnesses say, as insurgents attacked the Dand Chowk police checkpoint about 600 metres east of the prison and the Gendama police barracks about 2,200 metres to the west, hitting the two nearest positions held by Afghan forces and keeping them away from the prison for the next hour."
2. They didn't just ignore those prisoners who weren't in Sarpoza as Taliban.
"Bashir Ahmad, 19, said he followed the Taliban's orders to get out of the prison, and was confronted by an insurgent commander near the gate who wore a pakool hat and spoke with an accent that suggested he was not native to Kandahar. The commander had a scarf wrapped around his entire head, he said, with only his left eye showing.
“He gave us a choice: Fight along with the Taliban, or go home,” Mr. Ahmad said. “Many of us wanted to go home, so they divided us into groups of 100 or 200. They appointed a Taliban commander for each group, and each group had a few Taliban guards.”
The insurgents shepherded the groups of escapees down narrow alleyways, through vineyards, and across streams. When they heard aircraft, they took cover under trees or lay down in fields of wheat.
Mr. Ahmad's group spent the night camped in a village about 12 kilometres south of the prison..."
3. Finally, the Taliban paid attention to sparing civilian lives this time. Since they started their operation blowing up about 1800 kg of explosives at the prison's main gate according to some reports, doing so at around 9 p.m., this made some difference indeed.
"In the hours before the bombing, others in the neighbourhood also received warnings. Insurgents visited shops and a gas pump near the prison, telling people to evacuate the area because of an impending attack. The tactic was effective: Only one civilian, who worked at a bakery, was confirmed killed in the subsequent bombing."
Update (July 7): Don't miss the map (like I originally did) on the right (reminder: on this page) showing you a bird's eye's view of the Sarpoza complex and its surroundings, describing details of the attack.

1 comment:

Joshua Foust said...

How about the Canadians refusing to help round up the escapees?

Argh this makes my head hurt.