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Insurgents attack base in Afghanistan, killing coalition servicemember

This story has been updated

KABUL --- A coalition servicemember was killed Monday when insurgents dressed in military uniforms launched a complex attack on a military base in southern Afghanistan, employing a car bomb and multiple attackers with suicide vests, Afghan and coalition officials said.

The attack started around 11 a.m., when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden car at the gate of a base in the Taliban stronghold of Zharay district, in Kandahar province, Kandahar provincial government spokesman Javed Faisal said.

Faisal said eight attackers struck with suicide vests then engaged in a brief gunbattle with troops guarding the base, leaving all the attackers dead.

A spokeswoman for the International Security Assistance Force confirmed the details of the attack, as well as the death of the servicemember and said the attack caused “moderate damage” to the perimeter of the base.

Faisal said no civilians were harmed in the attack, in which he said the attackers were wearing coalition military uniforms. ISAF would not confirm that.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility and its spokesman said the group had inflicted heavy casualties, though the Taliban routinely exaggerate the effect of their attacks.

Violence in Afghanistan normally ebbs in the winter, when many insurgents take refuge in Pakistan before the traditional summer fighting season.

Monday’s base assault comes three days after a brutal massacre at a Kabul restaurant popular with foreigners. The Taliban also claimed responsibility for that attack, in which 21 diners and restaurant staff were killed by gunmen.

The restaurant attack, which targeted a Lebanese bistro in a heavily guarded neighborhood of embassies and aid organizations, has sent a ripple of fear through the international community in Kabul and raised concerns of more such attacks in the run-up to the country’s presidential election in April.

Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.

druzin.heath@stripes.com

Twitter: @Druzin_Stripes

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