KABUL: Four Americans were killed on Saturday in a suicide bombing inside the largest US military base in Afghanistan, Pentagon chief Ashton Carter said, in a major breach of security.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing inside the heavily fortified Bagram Airfield, north of the capital Kabul, which left 16 other US service members and a Polish soldier wounded as the insurgents ramp up attacks on Western targets.
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The dead included two American soldiers and two contractors, in an assault which highlights rising insecurity in Afghanistan nearly two years after US-led Nato forces formally ended their combat operations.
"Force protection is always a top priority for us in Afghanistan, and we will investigate this tragedy to determine any steps we can take to improve it," defense secretary Carter said, adding he was "deeply saddened" by the news.
"We will not be deterred in our mission to protect our homeland and help Afghanistan secure its own future."
The blast was caused by a suicide attacker who blew himself up near a dining facility inside the base, said Waheed Sediqi, spokesman for the governor of Parwan province where Bagram is located. "The attacker was one of the Afghan labourers working there," Sediqi told AFP.
Bagram district governor Abdul Shakoor Quddusi described the explosion as ‘powerful’, saying it reverberated across the area. The base was put on lockdown following the attack.
Pakistan strongly condemned the attack. “The people and Pakistan extend heartfelt condolences to the government and people of the US, sympathise with the bereaved families and pray for early recovery of the injured,” a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
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Pakistan reiterates its condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
The attack represents a brazen security breach inside one of the most heavily guarded military installations in Afghanistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2016.
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