Teenager threatens to blow himself up at US base in Afghanistan
By PHILLIP WALTER WELLMAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 20, 2017
KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan authorities on Tuesday arrested a teenager who had threatened to blow himself up at Bagram Air Field, officials said.
“He wanted to target a foreign forces convoy,” Abdul Shakoor Quddusi, governor of Bagram district in Parwan province told Stars and Stripes.
The boy was captured on a motorcycle near the first gate of the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan around 9 a.m. with a suicide vest and hand grenades, Quddusi said.
However, Bagram police officer Abdulsamad Zalmi said the boy, from nearby Laghman province, only threatened to be a suicide bomber and that no explosive vest was found on him.
Zalmi said an investigation had been launched to determine whether the teenager had access to more explosives in the area and whether he was working with anyone else.
The arrest came just hours after a group of armed men killed eight Afghan security guards who manned the gates of the Bagram base.
The guards were on their way to work on Monday night when their van came under fire in the Shaka area near the base, Quddusi said. Two other Afghan guards were wounded, he added.
The Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attack, describing the guards as spies for the United States who they had been tracking for some time.
Taliban militants, who seek to overthrow the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, see Afghan and international forces as legitimate targets, and have vowed to step up attacks against both.
When asked about the teenager’s arrest on Tuesday, United States Forces-Afghanistan confirmed an Afghan civilian holding two hand grenades approached an entry point to the base.
“There were no injuries during the incident and a security sweep of the area yielded no additional explosives,” USFOR-A said.
The incident comes amid growing concerns over security at Afghan bases.
On Saturday, seven U.S. servicemembers were wounded and at least one Afghan soldier was killed in an insider attack at Camp Shaheen in northern Afghanistan, the same site where around 150 Afghan soldiers were killed in April when Taliban fighters stormed the base and opened fire.
Just one week before Saturday’s attack, three other U.S. soldiers were killed in eastern Nangarhar province when an Afghan soldier opened fire on them. The Taliban later said the shooter was one of their fighters who had infiltrated Afghan forces.
The recent attacks come as the Trump administration is expected to deploy between 3,000-5,000 more American troops to Afghanistan.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last week that he intends to present a revised Afghanistan strategy to President Trump in the coming weeks.
Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.