Taliban claim deadly attack on US military base in Afghanistan
The Taliban insurgent group claimed responsibility for a complex attack that hit a medical facility near the largest US military base in Afghanistan early on Wednesday.
At least two Afghan civilians were killed and 73 civilians were injured in the attack which started at around 6 am (0130 GMT) close to a medical facility near the southern entrance gates of Bagram military base in Parwan province, officials said.
Afghan Interior Ministry Spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said three assailants had been killed, one had been detained and an operation was under way to hunt down the rest.
A blast marking the start of the assault was so powerful that it destroyed residential houses nearby, Rahimi said.
The Taliban’s main spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the attackers detonated a truck bomb next to the wall of the base, and that the damage caused by the explosion enabled suicide bombers to enter the fortified military compound.
Local officials said that two car bombs were detonated, and that at least seven assailants were involved.
An unexploded car bomb was later found at the site of the attack, the officials said.
A spokesman for the NATO-led mission Resolute Support initially confirmed the attack on Bagram but said the attack was “contained and repelled” and there were “no US or coalition casualties.”
A further US statement was however issued over 10 hours after the attack began: “We are now aware some armed fighters remain inside the medical facility, the situation is isolated to the clinic building and Bagram airfield is not in danger,” the statement said.
It also confirmed minor injuries to some service members.
The Georgian Defence Ministry said that five of its soldiers were slightly injured in the attack but did not require hospitalization.
Located some 50 kilometres north of Kabul city, Bagram airfield is the United States’ largest military base in Afghanistan.
The attack comes after the US and representatives of the militant Taliban reopened direct talks in Doha on Saturday to find a political solution to the 18-year-long conflict.
The US and Taliban had been on the threshold of signing an agreement before the talks were called off on September 5 by US President Donald Trump after a car bomb in Kabul that among others killed two NATO soldiers, including a US serviceman.
The talks were launched in July 2018 and continued for almost a year. The draft agreement called for the US to withdraw 5,000 US soldiers from Afghanistan in 135 days as a first step.
It also called for the Taliban to enter into direct talks with the Afghan government, a step the militants have so far refused to take as they consider Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government to be “puppets” of Washington.
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