NATO: 6 foreign troops killed in Afghanistan suicide attack

KABUL -- Six foreign soldiers were killed in a suicide attack near the U.S.-run Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan on Monday, NATO said.

See Full Article

Another three NATO troops were wounded in the attack, according to U.S. Army Brig. Gen William Shoffner, head of public affairs at NATO's Resolute Support base in the Afghan capital Kabul.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, which was the largest attack on foreign troops in Afghanistan since August.

Shoffner said it happened at around 1.30 p.m. local time in the vicinity of Bagram, the largest U.S. military facility in Afghanistan.

NATO could not confirm the nationality of the dead, according to policy that requires identification to come from casualties' home countries.

Earlier, an Afghan official put the number of NATO personnel dead at three, with another two wounded.

Mohammad Asim Asim, governor of Parwan province, where Bagram is located, said that a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden motorcycle into the combined NATO-Afghan foot patrol as it moved through a village close to the base, which is 45 kilometres (28 miles) north of Kabul.

He also said that two Afghan police officers were wounded in the attack.

It is the first major attack on a NATO military convoy since August 22, when three American contractors with the RS base were killed in a suicide attack on their convoy in Kabul. On August 7 and 8, Kabul was the scene of three insurgent attacks within 24 hours that left at least 35 people dead. One of the attacks, on a U.S. special operations forces base outside Kabul left one U.S soldier and eight Afghan civilian contractors dead.

Monday's attack came as Taliban gunmen and government forces battled for control of a strategic district in the southern province of Helmand after it was overrun by Taliban insurgents, delivering a serious blow to government forces.

Mohammad Jan Rasulyar, Helmand's deputy governor, said insurgents took control of Sangin district on Sunday. Only Afghan army facilities in the district had not been taken by the insurgents, he said. Casualties among Afghan security forces were high, he added, though he gave no figures.

Afghan Army commandoes and special forces had arrived in Sangin to push a counter-offensive, the Defence Ministry spokesman, Dawlat Waziri, said. He told reporters the Afghan air force had conducted 160 combat and transport flights over Sangin in the past 48 hours.

Among the insurgent forces in Helmand, "three out of 10 are foreign fighters," he said, adding that they included Pakistanis, Chechens, Uzbeks, Arabs and Chinese Uighurs. "The presence of the foreigners in this imposed war complicates the sitaution in Helmand," he said, echoing the government line that the war is run by a Taliban leadership believed to be based in Pakistan with official protection.

Helmand is an important Taliban base as it produces most of the world's opium, a crop that helps fund the insurgency.

Sangin district has bounced in and out of Taliban control for some years, and fighting there has produced high casualties among both Afghan and international forces. British forces in particular saw intensive fighting there at the height of the war in 2006 and 2007. Britain lost more than 450 troops during its combat mission in Afghanistan, more than 100 of them in Sangin.

Helmand's deputy governor Rasulyar on Sunday took the unusual step of using his Facebook page to warn President Ashraf Ghani that the entire province of Helmand was in danger of falling to the insurgents if central authorities failed to send help.

In Helmand, more than 90 members of the Afghan security forces died fighting in the two days before his Facebook plea, with hundreds killed in the past six months, he said in his open letter to Ghani.

The head of Helmand's provincial council, Muhammad Kareem Atal, said that 28 members of the Afghan security forces -- usually a reference to army and police who also fight on the front lines across the country -- were killed fighting on Sunday. Another 15 were critically wounded, he said.

"Around 65 per cent of Helmand is now under Taliban control," Atal said. "In every district either we are stepping back or we are handing territory over to Taliban, but still, until now, no serious action has been taken," he said, echoing Rasulyar's plea to the central authorities for help.

Important districts across Helmand province, including Nad Ali, Kajaki, Musa Qala, Naw Zad, Gereshk and Garmser, have all been threatened by Taliban takeover in recent months. Insurgents are also believed to be dug in on the outskirts of the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.

Taliban fighters, sometimes working with other insurgent groups like the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, have managed to overrun many districts across the country this year, as well as staging a three-day takeover of the major northern city of Kunduz. They rarely hold territory for more than a few hours or days, but the impact on the morale of Afghan forces is substantial.

Atal said more than 2,000 members of the security forces had been killed fighting in Helmand in 2015.

He said a major reason "that our forces are losing" was that many soldiers and police were deserting their posts in the face of the Taliban onslaught.

"There is a big difference between the number of both soldiers and police recorded as on duty, and the real number," he said, saying the official record was stuffed with "ghost police and soldiers."

The Taliban insurgency has spread across the country this year, following the withdrawal of international combat forces at the end of 2014. This has stretched government resources thin, as the traditional winter lull in fighting has so far failed to take place in the warmer, southern provinces.

The war has intensified since the announcement in late July that the founder and leader of the Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Omar, had been dead for more than two years. His deputy, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, succeeded him, causing internal ructions and delaying the likelihood that a peace dialogue with the Afghan government, halted after the announcement of Mullah Omar's death, will restart in the foreseeable future.

The Pentagon released a report last week warning that the security situation in Afghanistan would deteriorate as a "resilient Taliban-led insurgency remains an enduring threat to U.S., coalition, and Afghan forces, as well as to the Afghan people."

The U.S. now has about 9,800 troops in Afghanistan, some of which are involved in counterterrorism missions. With NATO contributions, there are about 13,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Associated Press writers Mirwais Khan in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and Humayoon Babur and Amir Shah in Kabul contributed to this story.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • France heads to the polls after unpredictable presidential campaign

    World News CBC News
    France goes to the polls on Sunday for the first round of a bitterly fought presidential election, crucial to the future of Europe and a closely-watched test of voters' anger with the political establishment. Nearly 47 million voters will decide, under tight security, whether to back a pro-EU centrist newcomer, a scandal-ridden veteran conservative who wants to slash public spending, a far-left eurosceptic admirer of Fidel Castro or appoint France's first woman president, to shut borders and…
  • Conservative candidates need to step up to the front

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    News flash! There is a leadership race underway within the Conservative Party of Canada. What? Really? How long has this been going on? Forever it seems, not that many have noticed amid the drama of the ruling Liberals’ marijuana legislation, its pandering Islamophobia motion, its leader’s questionable Aga Khan vacation destination, its outright lie about changing the federal voting system before the next election, and the tabling of an omnibus bill that they supposedly would never do. Source
  • Supply ship named for John Glenn arrives at space station

    World News Toronto Sun
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A supply ship bearing John Glenn’s name arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday. Astronauts used the station’s big robot arm to grab the capsule, as the craft flew 400 kilometres above Germany. Source
  • Bank of Canada governor 'happy' to see plan for GTA housing market

    Canada News CBC News
    Measures to cool the housing market in the Greater Toronto Area have received a warm response from Canada's central banker, who said Saturday it should have some effect on runaway housing prices. "I'm happy there are measures," Stephen Poloz, the governor of the Bank of Canada, told reporters during financial meetings in Washington. Source
  • 'There's nothing we can do': Rigaud, Que. residents waiting out flood

    Canada News CTV News
    Firefighters and police officers made the rounds Saturday checking on people in Rigaud, Que. who decided to stay in their homes despite the recent flood. The small town, located west of Montreal near the Ontario border, declared a state of emergency Thursday after a combination of heavy rainfall and spring thaw flooded the region. Source
  • 'There's nothing we can do': Rigaud, Que. residents wait out flood

    Canada News CTV News
    Firefighters and police officers made the rounds Saturday checking on people in Rigaud, Que. who decided to stay in their homes despite the recent flood. The small town, located west of Montreal near the Ontario border, declared a state of emergency Thursday after a combination of heavy rainfall and spring thaw flooded the region. Source
  • Calgarian who joined ISIS added to U.S. most-wanted terrorist list

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Once thought killed while fighting alongside ISIS forces in Iraq, a Calgarian is now one of the United States' most-wanted terrorists. In a decision by the U.S. State Department, Farah Mohamed Shirdon, 24, of Calgary, has been dubbed a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Source
  • Edmonton police seek 2 'people of interest' in dead toddler case

    Canada News CBC News
    Edmonton police are asking for more help from the public in identifying two people of interest regarding a dead toddler who was found Friday in the north end of the city. Police released a photo Saturday afternoon of a man and a woman. Source
  • 2 arrested in Edmonton dead toddler case

    Canada News CBC News
    Edmonton police are asking for more help from the public in identifying two people of interest regarding a dead toddler who was found Friday in the north end of the city. Police released a photo Saturday afternoon of a man and a woman. Source
  • Vibrator thief told sex shop clerk she had HIV before lunging at him with needle

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A woman found guilty of two thefts and threatening with a needle will have her day of reckoning at the Sudbury Courthouse on May 2, whether she is physically in court or not. “There will be an order I'm not opposed to,” Shawana's lawyer, Denis Michel, told Ontario Court Justice Karen Lische Wednesday concerning his client Naomi Shawana, who has refused to attend court on numerous occasions in recent months for her sentencing involving two armed robberies in January, 2016. Source