Taliban militants attacked a US military base in southeast Afghanistan

August 19th, 2008 - 4:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Kabul, Aug 19 (DPA) Six suicide attackers were killed after a group of Taliban militants attacked a US military base in southeast Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan, officials said Tuesday.The attack late Monday against Camp Salerno, a US military base in Khost province, came hours after a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-filled vehicle outside the same base, killing 10 civilians and wounding 13.

“The operation has just ended and we have the dead bodies of seven Taliban with six of them having suicide vests,” provincial governor Arsala Jamal told DPA Tuesday.

Jamal said around 15 Taliban insurgents, “most of them suicide bombers,” tried to enter the main US base in the region, but were pushed back by Afghan and international forces using airstrikes.

The surviving bombers escaped and hid themselves in residential houses and cornfields, he said, adding a suicide bomber exploded himself as Afghan and foreign soldiers were trying to arrest him in a cornfield.

“The blast killed the bomber and wounded four Afghan commandos,” Jamal said, adding, “There are also unconfirmed reports that two foreign soldiers were also wounded.”

He confirmed that two civilians were killed and three others were wounded during the airstrikes.

An army source, who declined to be named, said 13 attackers were killed and six army soldiers were wounded.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement that their forces pushed back the attackers using small arms fire. Helicopters also engaged the militants as they were trying to flee from the scene.

“Three of the insurgents killed themselves by detonating their suicide vests. ISAF forces killed three other suicide bombers before they could detonate their vests,” ISAF statement said.

There were no ISAF casualties in the attack, it added.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed a group of 15 suicide bombers entered the base and killed and wounded a large number of soldiers.

“Fifteen of our mujahedin, all equipped with light and heavy weapons, entered the military base and attacked several compounds inside the base, where the foreign forces were staying,” Mujahid said in a statement posted on a Taliban website.

In another suicide attack against NATO-led Canadian soldiers Tuesday morning in southern Kandahar province, one Afghan interpreter was killed and two more, including a Canadian soldier and an Afghan child, were wounded, district police chief Mohammad Eisa said.

The bomber, who had explosives strapped around his body, detonated himself in the main town of Panjwayee district as the soldiers were talking to the locals through the interpreter.

Taliban militants have stepped up their insurgency using mostly suicide and roadsides attacks in a campaign to topple the Western-backed Afghan government and expel some 70,000 international troops from the country.

The ISAF also said in a statement Tuesday that their forces had been involved in “a significant incident with insurgents in Kabul province” since Monday afternoon.

“The incident occurred in the late afternoon and remains ongoing,” the statement said, adding that more information would be given later.

Kabul city has been the scene of frequent Taliban attacks in recent months.

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