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Taliban fighters, suicide bombers attack U.S.-Afghan base

December 02, 2012|By David Zucchino
  • Afghan security forces patrol the site where Taliban suicide bombers attacked a U.S.-Afghan base in Jalalabad, east of Kabul.
Afghan security forces patrol the site where Taliban suicide bombers attacked… (Nasrullah Khan / Associated…)

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Taliban insurgents, including several suicide bombers, attacked a U.S.-Afghan military airfield in the eastern city of Jalalabad early Sunday morning, triggering an hours-long battle that left most of the attackers dead in a failed attempt to breach the base’s fortifications.

The attackers detonated two suicide vehicles at the gate of the base, followed by three more suicide bombers on foot who detonated explosive vests, according to an account of the attack provided by the Nangahar provincial governor's office late Sunday afternoon.

Four other suicide bombers attempted to detonate explosive vests but were shot and killed by security forces defending the base, the account said. The governor's office said the assault resulted in the deaths of nine attackers and three members of the Afghan security forces.

Eleven Afghan security force members were wounded. Two civilians were killed and three wounded, the governor's office said.

Air Force Lt. Col. Les Carroll, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, said no coalition forces were killed. Citing ISAF policy, Carroll said he could provide no details on the number or condition of coalition personnel wounded.

Abdul Jalil Shamal, deputy police chief for Nangahar province said the insurgents attacked with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.

The bodies of seven attackers were lying on the ground outside the base security walls at first light, according to Shamal. Some reports said the insurgents were dressed in Afghan military uniforms, a common tactic.

Shamal called the attack a failure. Carroll said, "None of the attackers succeeded in breaching the perimeter."

In a statement, a Taliban spokesman who calls himself Zabihullah Mujahid said: "This morning at 6 a.m., a number of our devotees attacked the major U.S. base in Jalalabad city and so far have brought heavy casualties to the enemy."

The Taliban routinely exaggerates the effects of its attacks.

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-- Special correspondent Hashmat Baktash contributed to this report.

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