The U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter downplayed a vicious Taliban attack against the U.S. Consulate on September 13, 2013, that killed two and wounded 17 Afghans. The speech caught many people by surprise in Afghanistan and around the world, because it demonstrated a complete lack of understanding about the events that occured.
“Now the individuals that attacked here yesterday did what they did because they wanted to get headlines. They are getting headlines, and certainly the impression from what I’ve seen here is that the headline they’re getting is that they got defeated. They were defeated in just a few minutes. And not only were they defeated, but there was an overwhelming and incredibly confident American, Afghan, and Coalition response – which included you – ready to deal with the situation”, he said in a speech at the US Consulate in Herat on September 14th, 2013 (source: DOD http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=16259).
According to news reports the “complex attack” lasted more than “just a few minutes”, as stated by Secretary Carter and cost as many as three killed and 17 Afghan soldiers wounded, some seriously (source: U.S. consulate in Afghan city in Herat under attack http://www.interaksyon.com/article/70634/at-least-3-dead-17-wounded-in-attack-on-us-consulate-in-afghan-city-of-herat).
According to Gen. Rahmatullah Safi, Herat province’s chief of police, the attack began around 6 a.m. when militants in an SUV and a van set off their explosives-laden vehicles while others on foot fired on Afghan security forces guarding the compound in the city, 625 miles from the capitol Kabul.
An Afghan police officer and security guard were killed in the attack, though it was not clear whether they died in the explosions of the two car bombs or in the gunfight that followed, Safi said.
The attack lasted approximently 2 and a half hours, in what many witnesses describe as “intense combat.”
At least seven heavily armed militants wearing suicide vests were killed in the attack on the consulate, including the two drivers of the explosives-laden vehicles, Safi said.
Herat hospital official Sayednaim Alemi confirmed at least 17 people were wounded in the attack, and that at least two dead bodies were brought to the medical center…
U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement that the assault began around 5:30 a.m., when “a truck carrying attackers drove to the front gate, and attackers – possibly firing rocket propelled grenades and assault rifles – started firing at Afghan forces and security guards on the exterior of the gates. Shortly after, the entire truck exploded, extensively damaging the front gate” (source: Afghan Taliban attack US Consulate kill two Afghans http://www.king5.com/news/Afghan-Taliban-attack-US-Consulate-kill-2-Afghans-223612751.html).
Needless to say Deputy Secretary of Defense Carter’s comments was received as a proverbial “slap in the face” to the Afghan soldiers who survived the attack as well as a insult to the families of those who died defending the U.S. consulate on that day.
The Taliban, who the U.S. is rumored to still be in secret negotiations with, quickly claimed resposibility for the attack in Herat which it said were directed at Americans in Afghanistan.
“Our aim for this attack is to show the Americans that they are not safe anywhere in this country,” Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadi said in a statement emailed to various news reporters.