“It’s not important for the Taliban. If they lose a group like this, they can easily find more fighters,” says Farouk Meranai, a former member of parliament from Nangarhar province. He adds that people should be more concerned with whether insurgents now have anti-aircraft capabilities. “If they got the chopper in Wardak then they can do it in other parts of Afghanistan.”
In an airstrike on Tuesday, International Security Assistance Forces say they targeted a safe house where the militants were hiding. The strike killed 13 of them, says Abdul Kayum Baqizoi, the police chief of Wardak province. Two militants managed to escape.
“These are the Taliban who were involved in the attack against the chopper,” he says. Officials from the Wardak governor’s office have also confirmed the militants’ connection to the helicopter attack.
The group of 15 militants fled Saydabad District’s Tangi Valley immediately after the helicopter incident and took refuge in the safe house in the neighboring Chak District. Villagers say the raid took place shortly after midnight in the Siyab Dara area of Chak.
International and Afghan officials say their intelligence confirms the militants' involvement in the helicopter attack. Two of the people reportedly killed in the raid were prominent Taliban commanders from Tangi Valley where the helicopter was shot down. Mullah Mohibullah, the top Taliban commander in Tangi Valley, and Shafiullah, a sub-commander in Tangi Valley, were also among the dead.