TribLIVE

| USWorld

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Suicide bombers kill 5 in Afghanistan

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Washington Post
Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, 8:42 p.m.
 

KABUL, Afghanistan — A squad of nine suicide bombers attacked a major U.S.-Afghan air base in the eastern city of Jalalabad just after dawn Sunday, exploding bombs at the front gate and sparking a lengthy firefight with both Afghan and NATO forces inside.

Officials said the attackers killed at least five people before being either shot or blown up by their own explosives. As the battle raged, American assault helicopters fired from overhead. Three Afghan security force members and two civilians died, officials said.

An American spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, said three foreign troops were wounded.

The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which was reminiscent of a frontal assault on the base in February, when a suicide bombing left nine Afghans dead. The base, located at a former commercial and military airfield, is a major transport center for the U.S. military in eastern Afghanistan.

One Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said in a message that “a number of our devotees” attacked the base and “brought heavy casualties to the enemy.”

A second spokesman, Abdul Balkhi, sent out a series of tweets Sunday that described the attack in great detail. He said two different groups of Taliban had staged it, including six who were wearing U.S. military uniforms and who drove onto the base in a vehicle that they then detonated.

Balkhi said a second group had shot a number of foreign troops in a two-hour fight before being “rewarded with martyrdom.” He said that two “enemy aircraft” had been destroyed and that much of the base had been “engulfed in flames.”

This triumphant version of events was partially contradicted by a series of competing tweets and emails from ISAF spokesmen, who portrayed the assault as far less successful.

Lt. Col. Hagen Messner confirmed that the airfield had been attacked at 6 a.m, but he stated that “no insurgents breached the perimeter.” Messner also confirmed that U.S. helicopters were deployed to defend the base, which ISAF officials said was secured soon after the firefight ended.

An official communique from the provincial governor's office in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, said two suicide vehicles had attacked the front gate of the base, followed by three suicide bombers who tried to detonate their explosives but were shot dead by ISAF and Afghan forces.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read World

  1. Comets hold life building blocks
  2. Senate to grill United Nations agency chief Amano on Iran nuclear pact
  3. Al-Qaida group in Syria targeted by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes
  4. Surfer seriously injured in Australian shark attack
  5. Obama challenges Kenya on gay rights
  6. Saudi-led airstrikes kill 120 in Yemen
  7. Experimental Ebola vaccine could stop virus in West Africa
  8. Dissension cracks Taliban leadership