Kajaki suicide bomb an eye opener for Marines in Afghanistan


Mohammad Gulab Mangal, the governor of Helmand province, offers comfort to a victim of a Jan. 17 suicide bomb in Kajaki district at Camp Bastion. (Photo by Sgt. Laura Bonano)

Marine forces assaulted key sections of Afghanistan’s Kajaki district last fall as part of Operation Eastern Storm, taking back several sections of it back from the Taliban.

One of those places was Kajaki Sofla. First Battalion, 6th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., and other elements of other units worked through the area, hunting insurgents and confiscating weapons caches as they went. Eventually, some level of reconciliation with Afghan citizens in the area became possible.

That brings us to the big event this week: A suicide bomb was detonated by an insurgent on a motorcycle in the Kajaki Sofla Bazaar Wednesday, killing more than a dozen people and wounding many more.

The Associated Press has an initial report up here, and it include a condemnation from Gen. John Allen, the four-star Marine commander who heads all military operations in Afghanistan. He’s quite blunt:

“With today’s horrendous attack at the Kajaki Sofla Bazaar, insurgents have once again destroyed the lives of dozens of innocent Afghan civilians,” Allen said in the statement. “These attacks against the people of Afghanistan have no effect on the progress we are together making here with our Afghan partners and will only further isolate the Taliban from the process of peace negotiation.”

The International Security Assistance Force that Allen heads initially reported that dozens of Afghan civilians, Afghan national security forces and coalition troops had been either killed or wounded.

The Marine Corps released an additional story today stating that the dead include three Afghan policemen and 10 civilians. An additional two Afghan policemen and 20 civilians were wounded and transported to a military hospital aboard Camp Bastion, a part of the Camp Leatherneck complex where II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) headquarters is based.

I’ve reached out to Marine officials at Leatherneck for any details that may be available about Marines in the area as it relates to this incident.  If there’s an update, I’ll post it here.


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I'm a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.

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