Insurgents launched a fierce attack on a major military base in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, one month after U.S. and coalition troops turned it over to the Afghan military. It follows a script similar to another deadly attack on the same base, Camp Bastion, in 2012: The fighters planned for it, trained for it and then released video highlighting it afterward.
The video was posted to YouTube on Saturday and publicized by the Long War Journal while the attack was still ongoing. A few dozen Taliban fighters launched it with automatic weapons and suicide vests, Reuters reported. At least five Afghan troops were killed on Friday in the fight, which continued this weekend, several media reports said. Those same reports varied on how many insurgents were killed, putting the number at between nine and 26.
The new video includes images of 10 fighters in training. They wear camouflage military uniforms, long beards and white head coverings, moving together in formation and running laps inside a dusty compound while carrying assault weapons. Music plays in the background, and a collection of photographs of the insurgents involved is shown.
The video also shows another method the Taliban used to prepare for the attack: creating a model of the base with model aircraft, hangars and vehicles. Doing so raises questions about how much inside knowledge about the base’s layout they had.
Long War Journal reports that the video was uploaded by a group calling itself “Mehsud Media,” implying it may be aligned with the Mehsud branch of the Pakistani Taliban. Leaders of that group have in recent days pledged allegiance to both Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Taliban, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State militant group, raising questions whether there might be a rift in the Mehsud group’s leadership.
Fifteen insurgents trained in Pakistan launched a similar attack on Camp Bastion in September 2012 that killed two U.S. Marines, wounded 17 other coalition members and destroyed or severely damaged nine aircraft. The lone surviving insurgent in that attack, Mohammed Nazeer, later told investigators that the insurgents worked from information provided by someone with access to the base. He has been sentenced to death by an Afghan court, but it isn’t clear when or if the execution will be carried out.
The Taliban released a video following the 2012 attack that showed how they breached the base’s external perimeter with basic fence cutters and knew where the aircraft they destroyed were kept.