KABUL - Insurgents conducted a complex early morning attack on a major joint coalition-Afghan airbase in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing at least one Afghan soldier and wounding several foreign troops, before all nine attackers were killed, according to coalition and local police officials.
Details still are sketchy, but the attack started around 6 a.m., when an explosives-laden vehicle detonated near one of the gates of Jalalabad Airfield, a major hub for coalition military air traffic, followed by another explosion and a prolonged gun battle, Afghan and coalition officials said.
A spokesman for the international military coalition confirmed one Afghan soldier had been killed and several foreign troops wounded, but said none of the attackers got inside the base, disputing a Taliban claim.
“This is not a Bastion-type of incident at all,” U.S. Army Maj. Martyn Crighton said, referring to a September attack on Camp Bastion, the coalition’s main base in Helmand Province. In that attack, insurgents wearing U.S. Army uniforms got onto the airfield, killed two U.S. Marines and destroyed six fighter jets. It only ended when attack helicopters fired on their own runway.
Nangarhar provincial police spokesman Hazrat Hussain Mashreqiwal said three Afghan National Army soldiers and two civilians were killed, along with all nine attackers. He said the second car bomb detonated prematurely after base guards opened fire on the vehicle.
An insurgent attack on the same base in February killed nine Afghans.
A Taliban spokesman claimed that the fighters involved in Sunday’s attack were wearing foreign military uniforms and got inside the base, where one of them detonated a suicide vest, and that more than 20 Afghan and foreign troops were killed.
Insurgents have carried out several spectacular attacks on major coalition installations, including the Bastion attack. In June, a truck bombing at Forward Operating Base Salerno flattened several buildings on the base and killed two Americans and several Afghan civilians, and seriously wounded 36 coalition soldiers.