Failed assault on Jalalabad airfield is the third ground attack
on major Nato compounds in five weeks
US and Afghan soldiers approach the site of a car bomb, part of the assault
on a Nato base near Jalalabad
Eight insurgents were killed Wednesday in a failed attempt to storm a Nato air base in eastern Afghanistan using a suicide car bomb and rocket-propelled grenades.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, the third ground assault against a major coalition base in the past five weeks.
The attacks failed to overrun the bases but showed that the Taliban have not been cowed by US efforts to ramp up the war.
Using light weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, the militants fought US and Afghan forces for 30 minutes around the airport outside Jalalabad city, the media office at the airport said.
The assault came just a day after the new US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, warned that fighting “may get more intense in the next few months”.
An Afghan soldier and one international service member were wounded in the fighting, Nato said.
“They were not able to breach the perimeter. They were fought off by a combination of Afghan and coalition security forces,” said German army Brigadier General Josef Blotz.
The airport, which includes a major military base shared by Afghans and the international force, is located on a main road that leads to the Pakistani border.
In a text message to the Associated Press in Kabul, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed that six suicide attackers killed 32 foreign and Afghan security forces at the airport, about 80 miles (125 kilometres) east of the Afghan capital. The insurgents often claim higher numbers of casualties than the official toll.
The Jalalabad attack follows a ground assault on 19 May against the giant Bagram air base north of Kabul and a similar attack three days later against Kandahar air base in the south.
In a separate incident in eastern Afghanistan, Nato said a US soldier died of wounds sustained in a gunfight with insurgents. Nato did not provide other details. The death brought to 59 the number of American troops who have died in June.
Elsewhere in the east, US and Afghan forces battled hundreds of militants from an al-Qaida-linked group for a third day yesterday in Kunar province, the US military said. Two American soldiers were killed on Sunday in the first day of the operation.
The attack in Kunar was directed against insurgents thought to be responsible for a roadside bombing that killed five American personnel in the area on 7 June, a US statement said.
The militants were believed to be members of the Haqqani group, a faction of the Taliban based in Pakistan that has close ties to al-Qaida. About 600 US and Afghan troops are taking part in the operation.
In western Afghanistan, two patients waiting for a doctor were wounded when a suicide bomber detonated his vest of explosives behind a clinic in the Dularam district of Farah province, said General Abdul Jabar Pardeli, chief of police in neighbouring Nimroz province. He said the intended target was not known.
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