Taliban attack Afghan guards in deadly raid

Taliban attack Afghan guards in deadly raid

The attack was striking not only for its scale and viciousness but because it took place in the Helmand River Valley, where thousands of British troops have been stationed for the past three years and where now American troops have entered to try to rout the Taliban.

How it happened

Interviews with security guards who survived the attack, as well as with police officers and village elders, suggested a confluence of factors was to blame: local frustration with the government, a subcontractor who had not hired local villagers for the road project and a vigorous Taliban that has not yet been weakened by Western troops.

The attack began at 3 am on Thursday as most of the guards slept, said Mohammed Tahir, a guard for the Khushal Civil Construction Company, the subcontractor charged with guarding the road and the supplies for the project. It was unclear whether the Americans or one of the many other foreign governments involved in reconstruction here was the primary contractor. Security for the project involved about 1,200 guards, according to two Khushal employees.

Tahir painted a scene of chaos as his fellow guards woke to gunshots and ran for their lives. “When the Taliban attacked, they were killing everyone, whoever was sleeping, and our guards were running away from their posts and Taliban were hitting them with their vehicles,” he said. After a sporadic gunfight that lasted until 7 am, the Taliban attacked again; this time in larger numbers, said Abdul Qahir, who commanded 400 Khushal company guards.

“They came with eight Toyota Land Cruisers and drove fast toward us and broke the first security belt,” he said, “and we were all firing on them, but they kept driving towards us and broke the second and third belts and drove over our concertina wires.”

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