Taliban attacks two Afghan bases


Foreign and Afghan troops repelled attacks on two bases in eastern Afghanistan today.

The attacks targeted the US military's Forward Operating Base Chapman and at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost province near the eastern border with Pakistan, where US and other foreign forces have been stepping up operations against a resurgent Taliban.

Seven CIA officers were killed by a suicide bomber inside Chapman last December, the second-most deadly attack in CIA history.

The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said air support was called in after the bases came under from arms and rockets or mortar rounds this morning. There have been several similar attacks against foreign military bases and Afghan government buildings in the east in the past year.

"ISAF ground forces, supported by combat aviation assets, killed at least 10 insurgents, captured several more and destroyed one recoilless rifle," it said in a statement.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, said 30 fighters had attacked the bases. They included suicide bombers and others armed with rockets and machine guns. He said about 20 of the fighters had been sent against the Salerno base.

Khost police chief Abdul Hakim Ishaaqzai said the bodies of 14 insurgents were found near the two bases. He said two vehicles packed with ammunition and explosives were seized.

Despite the presence of almost 150,000 foreign troops, violence across Afghanistan is at its worst since the Taliban were ousted by US-backed Afghan forces in late 2001.

Taliban-led insurgents have launched increasingly brazen attacks around Afghanistan in a bid to topple the government and force out foreign troops. More than 2,000 foreign troops have been killed, most of them Americans, since the conflict began.

Hundreds of civilians have also been caught in the crossfire, with civilian deaths spiking by 31 per cent in the first six months of this year, according to a United Nations report.