Taliban Attack Airport and Base in East Afghanistan
Saturday, 13 November 2010

Taliban insurgents attacked the main airport and a foreign military base at Jalalabad in Afghanistan's east on Saturday, Reuters witnesses and police said, with at least three of the attackers killed.

The assault in Jalalabad came a day after a suicide car bomber attacked a convoy of Afghan and NATO-led troops on the outskirts of the capital, Kabul, signaling a possible spike in violence in the lead-up to two important international events regarding the conflict in Afghanistan.

NATO leaders gather in Lisbon next week, with Afghanistan set to be top of the agenda as European members reassess their commitments amid flagging support for the war back home.

President Barack Obama will also review his Afghanistan war strategy next month and is committed to starting a gradual troop withdrawal of US troops from July 2011.

Violence is at its worst across Afghanistan since the Taliban were overthrown in 2001, with civilian and military casualties at record levels despite the presence of 150,000 foreign troops.

Saturday marks the ninth anniversary of the fall of the Taliban regime in Kabul to US-backed Afghan forces who overthrew the Islamist government for harboring al Qaeda before and after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Smoke was seen rising from the airport and explosions and gunfire were heard, a Reuters witness said. Helicopters flew overhead while the attack continued and the body of at least one suicide bomber was seen.

Nangarhar provincial police chief Obidullah Talwar confirmed the raid, but had no further details.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said by telephone from an undisclosed location that 14 suicide bombers were involved in the assault. The Taliban often exaggerate the details of attacks and play down the numbers of their own casualties.

Taliban army officer Abdullah Hamdard said seven Taliban fighters had attacked the base. "Three fighters were killed and we are searching for the rest," Hamdard told Reuters.

A Reuters witness said the bodies of three fighters, dressed in Afghan army uniforms and carrying rocket-propelled grenades, small arms and a heavy machinegun, were lying near the base.

A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the coalition was investigating reports of the attack but had no details.

Source: bdnews24.com

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