“The actions taken by the EI security staff in defense of the compound and project staff were nothing short of heroic,” said DAI President and CEO James Boomgard. “We are deeply grateful for their bravery, and for the work they do day in, day out, to make our development mission possible. Our hearts go out to the families of the deceased at this terrible hour.”

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     Rest in peace to the fallen heroes of Edinburgh International.  You defended your client and paid the ultimate price in the process. USAID and the companies involved in this should award these fallen heroes with medals of valor, because if these were soldiers in any army, they certainly would have been recognized for these actions.

     The interesting thing here is the attack shows a definite pattern.  Suicide assaulters blasting the entry point and swarming the target, looking for opportunities of attack as they penetrate deeper. I would also be curious if they were wearing body armor under their suicide vests or if they were wearing ANA or ANP uniform? Regardless, the defense that the EI guys had in place, was able to protect what was important and kill all six suicide assaulters. I would be interested in reading the AAR for this and hopefully any lessons learned is getting out to other learning organizations/guard forces throughout Afghanistan. –Matt

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Kunduz

Firefighters try to put out a fire in a building which was attacked by Taliban insurgents in Kunduz  Photo: REUTERS   

DAI Project Office Attacked in Afghanistan, Four People Killed

July 2, 2010

DAI is today mourning the loss of four staff following an early morning attack on our Local Governance and Community Development (LGCD) Program office in Kunduz, Afghanistan. All four of those killed worked for our security subcontractor, Edinburgh International (EI).

“The actions taken by the EI security staff in defense of the compound and project staff were nothing short of heroic,” said DAI President and CEO James Boomgard. “We are deeply grateful for their bravery, and for the work they do day in, day out, to make our development mission possible. Our hearts go out to the families of the deceased at this terrible hour.”

One British, one German, and two Afghan nationals were killed in the incident, and several more EI staff were injured. Two DAI staff were injured but all are safe and receiving medical care under the auspices of the Provincial Reconstruction Team.

Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), LGCD works to extend the reach of the Afghan government. It engages local governments and communities in promoting their own development, thereby building the credibility of local authorities and contributing to stabilization by offering a viable governance alternative in places susceptible to the influence of anti-government elements.

As always in incidents of this nature, our first priority is to ensure the safety and security of our staff, both expatriate and Afghan national. We will be working closely with USAID, EI, and our other partners in Afghanistan to assess the security situation in Kunduz. We are committed to doing everything we can to support the victims’ families and help our Afghanistan-based staff through this traumatic experience.

Contact: Steven O’Connor

Director of Communications

301.771.7834

steven_o’connor@dai.com

Website for DAI here.

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USAID Administrator Shah Statement on Attack in Kunduz City, AfghanistanJuly 2, 2010Press Office: 202-712-4320Public Information: 202-712-4810www.usaid.gov

Washington, D.C. – In response to the deadly overnight attack on the compound of Development Alternatives, Inc., a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) implementing partner in Afghanistan, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah has issued the following statement:

Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with the families of the victims of the attack on the residence and office of DAI, a USAID implementing partner in Kunduz City. Like our staff and others in the development community, these dedicated individuals worked day in and day out with the Government of Afghanistan, and our Afghan and international partners to tackle difficult and dangerous situations in order to help provide a better life for all Afghan people. We strongly condemn this attack and will not tolerate such attempts at intimidation. This incident underscores the importance of the international community’s ongoing efforts to help bring about a stable and secure Afghanistan in partnership with the Afghan people.

Story here.

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USAID compound attacked in Afghanistan; 4 killed

By DEB RIECHMANN

July 2, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban suicide attackers stormed a four-story house used by an American aid organization in north Afghanistan on Friday, killing four people before dying in a fierce, five-hour gunbattle with Afghan security forces.

The pre-dawn attack appeared part of a militant campaign against international development organizations at a time when the U.S. and its allies are trying to accelerate civilian aid efforts to turn back the Taliban.

It came on the same day that Gen. David Petraeus landed in the Afghan capital to take command of U.S. and international forces fighting the nearly 9-year-old war. Petraeus arrived from Brussels where he sought to reassure allies that the war against the Taliban was on track despite rising casualties and problems regaining control over key parts of the country.

Insurgents began their brazen attack in Kunduz at about 3:30 a.m. A suicide car bomber blew a hole in the wall around a building used by Development Alternatives Inc., a global consulting company based in the Washington, D.C., area on contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID. The company is working on governance and community development issues in the area.

At least five other attackers, all wearing explosive vests, then ran inside the building, according to Afghan police and army officials. The insurgents killed or wounded security guards and others before dying themselves in a gunbattle with Afghan security forces who raced to the scene.

“It was 3 o’clock in the morning, close to the morning prayer time, when a suicide bomber in a 4×4 vehicle exploded his vehicle,” Gen. Abdul Razaq Yaqoubi, police chief in Kunduz province, said as Afghan national security forces were still battling to kill the last surviving attacker. “There is no way for him to escape.”

Black smoke billowed from the windows of the house. The bodies of the victims were found laying amid broken glass, rubble and pools of blood. Stunned aid workers were led from the scene as NATO troops carried bodies wrapped in black plastic out on stretchers.

One British, one German and two Afghan nationals were killed, according to a statement issued by DAI in Bethesda, Md. They all worked for DAI’s security subcontractor, Edinburgh International, DAI said. Several other people, including two members of the DAI staff, were among those injured.

Steven O’Connor, communications director for DAI, said three DAI employees — two Americans and one Serb — were inside the building at the time of the attack. It was unclear if they were among the wounded.

“The actions taken by the Edinburgh International security staff in defense of the compound and project staff were nothing short of heroic,” said DAI President James Boomgard. “We are deeply grateful for their bravery, and for the work they do day in, day out, to make our development mission possible. Our hearts go out to the families of the deceased at this terrible hour.”

He said the firm would be working with USAID, Edinburgh International and others to assess the security situation in Kunduz, a focal point of the insurgency in the north.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press in Kabul that six suicide bombers attacked a “training center” for Afghan security forces in Kunduz and killed 55 foreigners. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

Insurgents have been carrying out attacks in recent months against organizations and individuals seen as cooperating with the Afghan government and donor nations just as the international community is trying to help the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai extend its reach deeper into the provinces.

“They don’t want the people of Afghanistan to have a prosperous life,” Karzai said in a statement condemning the attack.

The U.S. called it a cowardly attack on civilians working to improve conditions in the nation.

“This is another tragic reminder of the life-threatening circumstances that our Afghan and international partners face every day as they work side by side with the Afghan government and its people to improve conditions in the country for a better future,” according to the joint statement issued by USAID and the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan.

Attacks on U.S. contractors, construction companies and aid organizations have been rising just as the United States pushes faster development of one of the world’s poorest countries — a priority in its strategy to counter the insurgency. Many of the recent attacks have occurred in Kandahar province in the south where Afghan and NATO forces are ramping up security to wrest control of the area from insurgents and criminals.

In April in Kandahar, a suicide bombing on a fortified guesthouse shared by Western contracting companies killed four Afghans and injured several Americans; a gunman killed an 18-year-old woman working for DAI as she left her job; and the vice mayor of the city was shot and killed as he prayed at a mosque.

Also in April, five Afghan workers for the U.N. Office of Project Services were taken hostage in Baghlan province, west of Kabul, but were later freed unharmed.

Earlier this week, the Afghan driver of a U.N. vehicle was shot and killed in midday traffic in central Kabul, and militants rocketed a base for South Korean construction workers in Parwan province, north of the capital, but caused no casualties.

Story here.

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Briton killed in ‘Taliban’ attack

July 2, 2010

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on an aid contractor’s offices in Afghanistan which left one British man dead and another seriously injured.

The private security guard was one of four people killed when at least six suicide bombers targeted the offices of US consultancy firm Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) in Kunduz, in the north of the country.

A German and two Afghans were also killed in the assault, which began at about 3.30am local time. The four, who worked for DAI’s security subcontractor Edinburgh International (EI), have been hailed as heroes for their attempt to defend the compound.

The Briton injured in the attack was described by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) as being in a “critical” condition. Both men’s next of kin have been informed, and the FCO are providing consular assistance.

At least five militants wearing explosives vests ran inside the building after a suicide bomber blew up a car outside the DAI’s Local Governance and Community Development office.

They were then engaged in a gun battle with Afghan security forces for several hours before being killed.

Washington DC-based DAI is contracted by USAID to improve governance and community development in Kunduz, which is largely patrolled by German troops.

DAI president and CEO James Boomgard said: “The actions taken by the EI security staff in defence of the compound and project staff were nothing short of heroic.

“We are deeply grateful for their bravery, and for the work they do day in, day out, to make our development mission possible. Our hearts go out to the families of the deceased at this terrible hour.”

Today’s raid was condemned by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Nato-led mission in Afghanistan, known as the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Story here.

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Edinburgh International Website here.

Knights of Afghanistan post about incident here.

Long War Journal post about incident here.