September 2, 2013
KABUL, Afghanistan–A group of suicide bombers attacked a U.S. base in Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan on Monday morning, leading to multiple explosions, a gunfight and the closure of a key road used by NATO supply trucks, officials said. Multiple vehicles belonging to U.S.-led forces were torched, according to an Afghan official.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the strike in the Torkham area, the latest in a surge of attacks in Afghanistan as U.S.-led foreign troops reduce their presence en route to a full withdrawal by the end of next year.
In a statement, NATO confirmed “a series of explosions” in the area but said none of its personnel were killed. The military alliance does not release information on wounded troops. No members of the Afghan security forces or civilians were killed or wounded, according to Esa Khan Zwak, chief administrator in Mohmandara district in which the base is located.
Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province, said several militants wearing suicide vests and carrying other weapons staged the attack, and that Afghan and U.S. forces were exchanging gunfire with the insurgents. NATO helicopters were flying over the base, he added.
The highway between Jalalabad city and Torkham, an important route for NATO supply trucks, has been closed, Abdulzai said. Militants on both sides of the Afghan border have frequently targeted the supply line, leading NATO to shift much of its supply delivery toward routes from Central Asian states instead of through Pakistan.
Afghan officials say the base was a stopping point for many types of vehicles used by U.S. and other NATO forces. Masoum Khan Hashimi, deputy provincial police chief in Nangarhar, said several of the vehicles had been set ablaze and that firefighting trucks were sent to help try to douse the flames.
In an emailed statement, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the insurgent group was behind Monday morning’s attack, and claimed it had destroyed several tanks in the process — an assertion that could not be confirmed.