Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bagram attack kills US contractor, wounds nine NATO soldiers

An American contractor died in this morning's attack on Bagram Air Base.
"One US contractor was killed, nine service members were wounded, and a building received minor damages during the attack," Bagram Media Center said on its web site, which was being updated throughout the day. "Two of the nine wounded were returned to duty, all others are currently in stable condition. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending next of kin notification."

Afghanistan Taliban militants attacked the heavily fortified American military base at Bagram early Wednesday in a clash that left at least nine NATO soldiers wounded and 11 attackers dead. It followed a separate Taliban suicide bomb attack Tuesday that killed six foreign troops in Kabul, pointing to the resiliency of the insurgency and the continued vulnerability of the capital region.
The Taliban claimed that seven suicide bombers detonated themselves at one of the entrances to the base, clearing the way for 20 Taliban fighters to enter the complex, reports The New York Times, which notes that the militia’s claims are often exaggerated. Citing an unnamed US official, the Times reports that at least 30 insurgents were involved in the attack.

The US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has been quick to deny the Taliban’s claims to have breached the base, which is a major hub of NATO operations located just 50 miles north of the capital, Kabul.
“Though it is clear the enemy intended a spectacular event here at BAF, they were unable to breach the perimeter and unable to detonate their suicide vests,” military spokesman Lt. Col. Clarence Counts Jr. noted in a prepared statement on the ISAF website. “The quick defensive reaction by the Bagram security forces likely saved a lot of lives.”
Bagram press officer Maj. Virginia McCabe also cast doubt on claims that suicide bombers had been involved. "We know there are claims of suicide bombers but we are not aware of it at this time," McCabe told Al Jazeera.

McCabe later told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that nine NATO troops had been wounded in the assault, although it is possible that figure will continue to rise.

AFP interviewed eyewitnesses to the attack from a neighboring village who described a confusing early morning battle involving suicide bombers and US helicopter gunships: