Taliban attack NATO base in east Afghanistan

Nato's ISAF, ANA soldiers stationed at Jalalabad airport attacked, eight militants killed.

Afp November 13, 2010

JALALABAD: Taliban fighters launched a pre-dawn attack on a Nato base in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, triggering a firefight with foreign and Afghan forces that left eight militants dead.

Nato's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said its troops and Afghan National Army (Ana) soldiers stationed at Jalalabad airport came under attack, but that none of their forces were killed.

"The forward operating base received small arms fire from an unknown number of insurgents and after gaining positive identification of insurgent fighting positions an Ana and Isaf quick reaction force was sent to the area," it added. "Initial reports indicate no Ana or Isaf service members were killed." One of the attackers was wearing a suicide vest, Isaf said.

Eight attackers were confirmed to have been killed, said Nangarhar provincial government spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzoi .

The Taliban, which often exaggerates details of its attacks, including foreign casualties, said that 14 suicide bombers were involved. "They entered the airport. Some of them have blown themselves up. Some of them are still fighting," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid added several hours after explosions and firing was first heard in the vicinity.

Saturday's incident came after a failed suicide attack in the Afghan capital Kabul on Friday, which was aimed at a convoy of foreign and local troops near a military base. Kabul has suffered relatively lightly in recent months from the deadly guerrilla war being waged across Afghanistan against some 150,000 US and Nato troops, particularly in the south.

Isaf said separately on Saturday that foreign troops and Afghan soldiers detained "a senior Taliban leader" and several other suspected militants after discovering a significant weapons cache in the southern Helmand province. The joint operation on Friday was aimed at disrupting the Taliban's efforts to raise funds for the insurgency through drug-trafficking across the porous border with neighbouring Pakistan, it added. The suspected Taliban militant was also allegedly involved in the supply of weapons and improvised explosive devices, which are the group's weapon of choice against foreign forces, a statement said.

Several armed insurgents were killed on Friday in an air strike targeting a senior Taliban leader in northern Baghlan province, another statement said. Afghanistan's interior ministry said a haul of homemade bombs was uncovered in northern Kunduz province, also on Friday, and that five rounds of IEDs were defused in three southern provinces.

The hardline Taliban militia claimed responsibility for another brazen daylight attack on the Jalalabad air base in June, which saw a car bomb set off and rockets fired at foreign forces. A number of assailants were killed and two service personnel were injured during the attack, which came just days before US General David Petraeus took up his post as Nato's top commander in Afghanistan.

Jalalabad has more than 2,500 military and civilian personnel and is one of Nato's largest bases in Afghanistan after Kandahar in the south and Bagram, north of Kabul. Kandahar and Bagram have also been targets for Taliban attacks in the past.


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