Aug 28, 2010

Insurgents Attack 2 Bases - wearing US Army uniforms


Afghan Insurgents Attack 2 Bases
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 10:35 a.m. ET

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Insurgents wearing U.S. Army uniforms launched pre-dawn attacks Saturday on a major NATO base in eastern Afghanistan and a nearby camp where seven CIA employees were killed last year in a suicide bombing. NATO said there were no coalition casualties and the attacks were repelled.

NATO said at least 21 insurgents were killed -- including four who were wearing suicide vests -- and five captured in Saturday's coordinated attacks.

Afghanistan's Interior Ministry put the insurgent death toll in the attacks at 24, with five captured and no casualties on the police side. The Defense Ministry said two Afghan soldiers were killed and three wounded in the fighting.

The assaults on the sprawling Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost province and nearby Camp Chapman came around 3 a.m., just as area residents were rising for early morning prayers.

The area, about 60 miles southeast of Kabul near the border with Pakistan, is a hotbed of activity by the Taliban and other insurgent groups, including the December attack on Chapman that killed four CIA officers and three contracted security guards.

In recent months similar attacks have been launched against U.S. bases at Bagram, Jalalabad and Kandahar.

Afghan police said about 50 insurgents attacked using rifles, heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons, but had been repelled.

After being driven away from the bases, the insurgents approached the nearby offices of the governor and provincial police headquarters but were driven off, said Khost provincial police Chief Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai.

"Given the size of the enemy's force, this could have been a major catastrophe for Khost. Luckily we prevented it" he said.

Small arms fire continued through the morning, while NATO helicopters patrolled overhead.

NATO said two insurgents had managed to breach Salerno's perimeter, but were observed cutting the fence and killed immediately.

Dead insurgents were seen wearing camouflage jackets and pants seemingly identical to those warn by U.S. Army soldiers.

Police captured a pickup truck laden with ammunition along with a light truck packed with explosives that had become stuck in deep mud, according to Maj. Wazir Pacha of the provincial police headquarters. Bomb specialists later destroyed the truck and its cargo, according to the Interior Ministry.

NATO said the dead insurgents were members of the Haqqani Network, a Taliban-affiliated group with deep ties to al-Qaida that is accused of launching frequent raids across the border from neighboring Pakistan.

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