Four Amer­i­cans killed in US base at­tack in Afghanistan

Kuwait Times - - FROM THE ARABIC PRESS -

Four Amer­i­cans were killed yes­ter­day in a sui­cide bomb­ing inside the largest US mil­i­tary base in Afghanistan, Pen­tagon chief Ash­ton Carter said, in a ma­jor breach of se­cu­rity. The Tale­ban claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the bomb­ing inside the heav­ily for­ti­fied Bagram Air­field, north of the cap­i­tal Kabul, which left 16 other US ser­vice mem­bers and a Pol­ish sol­dier wounded as the in­sur­gents ramp up at­tacks on West­ern tar­gets.

The dead in­cluded two Amer­i­can soldiers and two con­trac­tors, in an as­sault which highlights ris­ing in­se­cu­rity in Afghanistan nearly two years af­ter US-led NATO forces for­mally ended their com­bat op­er­a­tions. “Force pro­tec­tion is al­ways a top pri­or­ity for us in Afghanistan, and we will in­ves­ti­gate this tragedy to de­ter­mine any steps we can take to im­prove it,” de­fense sec­re­tary Carter said, adding he was “deeply sad­dened” by the news. “We will not be de­terred in our mis­sion to pro­tect our home­land and help Afghanistan se­cure its own future.”

The blast was caused by a sui­cide at­tacker who blew him­self up near a din­ing fa­cil­ity inside the base, said Wa­heed Sediqi, spokesman for the gover­nor of Par­wan prov­ince where Bagram is lo­cated. “The at­tacker was one of the Afghan la­bor­ers work­ing there,” Sediqi told AFP. Bagram district gover­nor Ab­dul Shakoor Qud­dusi de­scribed the ex­plo­sion around 0100 GMT as “pow­er­ful”, say­ing it re­ver­ber­ated across the area. The base was put on lock­down fol­low­ing the at­tack.

The at­tack rep­re­sents a brazen se­cu­rity breach inside one of the most heav­ily guarded mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions in Afghanistan. The United States has around 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, with the largest con­tin­gent sta­tioned at the Bagram base. The base is en­veloped by mul­ti­ple lay­ers of Afghan and Amer­i­can guards, se­cu­rity cam­eras and watch tow­ers, and a sur­veil­lance blimp keeps a close watch on the sur­round­ing ar­eas.

“To the fam­ily and friends of those who lost their lives to­day, we share your loss and our thoughts are with you. We of­fer you our deep­est con­do­lences,” said John Ni­chol­son, the top US and NATO com­man­der in Afghanistan. “For the fam­ily and friends of those wounded in to­day’s at­tack, let me as­sure you they are re­ceiv­ing the best care pos­si­ble, and we will keep them in our thoughts to­day.”

Tale­ban spokesman Zabi­hul­lah Mu­jahid said one of the in­sur­gent group’s sui­cide bombers car­ried out the as­sault, claim­ing it in­flicted “heavy ca­su­al­ties on US in­vaders”. The mil­i­tants are step­ping up at­tacks na­tion­wide be­fore the on­set of win­ter, when the fight­ing usu­ally ebbs. Bagram Air­field has fre­quently come un­der at­tack by Tale­ban in­sur­gents. Last De­cem­ber, a mo­tor­cy­cle-rid­ing Tale­ban sui­cide bomber killed six US soldiers near the base in one of the dead­li­est at­tacks on for­eign troops in the coun­try in 2015.

The lat­est as­sault came af­ter a pow­er­ful Tale­ban truck bomb struck the Ger­man con­sulate in Afghanistan’s north­ern Mazar-iSharif city late Thurs­day, killing at least six peo­ple and wound­ing more than 100 oth­ers. The uptick in at­tacks comes just days af­ter a bit­ter US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Afghanistan got scarcely a pass­ing men­tion in the elec­tion cam­paign - even though the sit­u­a­tion there will be an ur­gent mat­ter for the new pres­i­dent. Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is set to in­herit Amer­ica’s long­est war with no end in sight. — AFP

BAGRAM, Afghanistan: Afghanistan’s National Army soldiers block the main road to the Bagram Air­field’s main gate yes­ter­day. — AP

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