A major U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan came under attack early Sunday morning by Taliban suicide bombers, who detonated explosives at the entrance of the base and exchanged gunfire with U.S. helicopters for at least two hours.
A member of the Afghan security forces was killed apart from the attackers though the authorities are yet to confirm the exact number of those who were part of the attack on the airfield, used by the U.S. and NATO forces, in the eastern city of Jalalabad. The assault that began at 6 a.m. and the subsequent fighting ended by mid-morning.
A dozen bodies in Afghan police and military uniforms were found scattered around the airfield gate, Reuters reported citing local police officials. However, it remains to be seen if the attackers were Afghan security forces or militants dressed in uniforms, a tactic the Taliban has deployed in the past.
"We can confirm insurgents, including multiple suicide bombers, attacked Jalalabad Airfield this morning. None of the attackers succeeded in breaching the perimeter," Lt. Col. Hagen Messer, a spokesman for the international military coalition, told the Associated Press (AP) in an email.
The attack highlighted the looming security vacuum in Afghanistan with the foreign combat troops slated to pull out in 2014.
Afghan officials told BBC that first four attackers had arrived in explosive-laden cars and had targeted different entrances to the airfield, while three others who had followed on foot attacked security guards.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, in his messages to Reuters and AP claimed to have stormed the facility bringing “heavy casualties to the enemy.”
A spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said none of the militants were able to enter the base while the NATO military coalition described it as a failed attack.
To contact the editor, e-mail: