Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Two Pretty Good Reports on Yesterday's Attack in Peshawar

Consumer Notice: This post is certified 100% free of Matters of Official Concern that are not referenced from publicly available sources of information.

[Note: Since the embedded video above has been unavailable as often as not, try this link. Please accept my apologies.]

The video above is the best of the TV news reports I've seen about yesterday's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan. The narrator goes a bit far by calling the consulate "the seat of America's secret war on militants in Pakistan," but, OK, I guess that's within an acceptable range of hyperbole. It has a good description of the tactics used by the Taliban crew, and also an impressive amount of audio of the firefight that went on for over ten minutes in front of the consulate's entry control point as the attackers used rifles and hand grenades to try to force their way past the consulate's armed guards and Pakistani security forces.

The video also has a very brief glimpse of the end of the fight. At that point, the attackers who were on foot had failed to create a breach in the consulate's perimeter that could be exploited by the last of their two truck bombs, and they can be seen standing with their arms raised, apparently surrendering, when the last truck bomb was detonated behind them, killing them.

Also today, I saw a pretty good report of the incident by Stratfor, the private risk analysis firm, Pakistan: The Results of the Peshawar Attack:

A total of nine people, including the attackers, have died as a result of an April 5 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan. No Americans were killed, but according to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, three of those killed were local security personnel protecting the consulate.

-- snip --

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the approximately 20-minute attack, which used two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) that targeted the main vehicle checkpoint leading into the consular compound. It appears the attackers intended to breach the checkpoint with the first IED and drive the second device up to the front of the consulate before detonating it, presumably to breach the building’s exterior and allow gunmen to enter.

-- snip --

U.S. diplomatic missions are extremely hard targets, with multiple concentric rings of security. The U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, a city frequently targeted by the TTP, is no exception. Simply gaining access to the street on which the consulate is located requires passing through Pakistani military checkpoints. The main diplomatic compound is behind both a wall and a series of less-strategic buildings positioned in a way that would limit the damage inflicted upon the mission in attacks such as the one on April 5.

-- snip --

Despite the complexity of the attack, the militants were unable to inflict much damage ...... Neither the VBIED nor the attackers were able to break through the delta barriers protecting the entrance to the consulate. However, due to its size, the second VBIED did damage buildings inside the compound — a feat not achieved in a handful of other recent attacks against U.S. diplomatic missions in Sanaa, Yemen; Istanbul; and Karachi, Pakistan.

So, on the most basic level, what happened here is that the U.S. State Department took physical security measures in Peshawar - onerous, expensive, and difficult to implement measures, which you can find a generic description of on pages 11 and 12 of this publicly available source of information - to ensure that it would be able to protect its employees, using its own resources, until the Pakistani government had the time it needed to respond to the attack.

No comments: