Taliban attack US base | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 19.05.2010
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Asia

Taliban attack US base

One of the largest NATO bases in Afghanistan was attacked by insurgents on Wednesday. One American national and at least ten attackers were killed in the pre-dawn attack.

US soldiers wait after collecting the body of an insurgent near the Bagram airbase

US soldiers wait after collecting the body of an insurgent near the Bagram airbase

Insurgents, wearing vests packed with explosives targeted Bagram at around 4 am local time, killing one American contractor and injuring nine troops. The US army said they responded quickly. "We're always prepared to deal with attacks on our base," an army spokesman said. "The response this morning was immediate."

The fighting continued for hours with sporadic rocket and small arms fire. At least 10 militants were killed. The US army said no insurgents managed to get into the base.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said one of the buildings on the base suffered light damage during the attack. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.

US airbase in Bagram

US airbase in Bagram

Largest US base

Bagram, some 75 kilometers north of Kabul, is the largest US military base in Afghanistan. The airfield is also a transit hub for many of the NATO forces. Bagram also has a notorious US-run detention centre.

The heavily fortified base was last hit in March, when the Taliban fired a rocket at the compound shortly after a visit by US President Barack Obama.

Afghan police and US military cordon off an area after a suicide attack in Kabul

Afghan police and US military cordon off an area after a suicide attack in Kabul

Rising insurgency

Wednesday's attack came just a day after the Islamists targeted NATO forces in Kabul, killing 18 people, including five US soldiers. At least 210 NATO soldiers have died so far this year in the war-torn country, making it the deadliest period for foreign troops since the US-led invasion in late 2001.

The Taliban recently announced they would launch a spring offensive against the government, diplomats and foreign forces in response to the NATO's plan to start an operation against the Taliban in their southern stronghold of Kandahar.

The latest violence comes just days before a peace jirga. The three-day assembly of Afghan leaders and tribal elders is intended to secure a consensus on how to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.

du/AFP/AP/Reuters/dpa
Editor: Grahame Lucas

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