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Taliban attack U.S. base in Afghanistan’s east


KABUL, Aug 28 (Reuters) – Up to 30 Taliban insurgents, including suicide bombers, attacked a U.S. base in Afghanistan’s east on Saturday, officials said, but there were no details available about possible casualties or damage.

The attack began overnight at the well-fortified Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost province near the southeastern border with Pakistan, where U.S. and other foreign forces have been stepping up operations against a resurgent Taliban.

Seven Central Intelligence Agency officers were killed by a suicide bomber inside the base last December, the second-most deadly attack in CIA history. [ID:nSGE5BU01G]

Lieutenant Commander Katie Kendrick, a spokeswoman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, confirmed the new attack but could give few other details.

“There is ongoing activity there, but it is fresh and I can’t give more details,” Kendrick said.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, said 30 fighters had attacked the base. They included suicide bombers and others armed with rockets and machine guns, Mujahid told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Despite the presence of almost 150,000 foreign troops, violence across Afghanistan is at its worst since the Taliban were ousted by U.S.-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 percent in the first six months of this year, according to a United Nations report.

CONTRACTORS KILLED

On Saturday, ISAF said its forces had mistakenly killed two private security contractors after one of its patrols came under fire from insurgents in Wardak province west of the capital.

A car approached the patrol at speed on a highway in the Maidan Shahr district of Wardak on Friday and men could be seen shooting out of the vehicle’s windows, ISAF said in a statement.

The patrol fired on the vehicle, killing two people inside later identified as private security contractors.

“It is believed that the private security contractors were returning fire against the same insurgents who had just previously attacked the coalition vehicle, and had increased their speed to break contact,” ISAF said.

The suicide attack on Forward Operating Base Chapman on Dec. 30 last year highlighted the insurgency’s reach and coordination, particularly in their strongholds in the south and east.

The insurgents launched a similar attack this month on the main foreign base in southern Kandahar province, the spiritual homeland of the Taliban.

Poor security is one of the main concerns for Afghans before parliamentary elections on Sept. 18, a milestone after fraud-marred presidential polls last year and with U.S. President Barack Obama planning a strategy review in December. (Reporting by Hamid Shalizi; Editing by Paul Tait and Ron Popeski) (For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/afghanistanpakistan) (paul.tait@reuters.com; Kabul Newsroom, +93 706 011 526) (If you have a query or comment on this story, send an email to news.feedback.asia@thomsonreuters.com)

AlertNet news is provided by Reuters

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