Taleban suicide bombers attacked a joint US-Afghan air base in eastern Afghanistan early yesterday, detonating explosives at the gate and sparking a gun- battle that lasted at least two hours with American helicopters firing down on the militants.
The attackers and at least five Afghans were killed, officials said. Taleban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the assault.
It was the largest attack on the Jalalabad air base since February, when a suicide car bombing at the gate triggered an explosion that killed nine Afghans, six of them civilians.
In yesterday’s attack, two vehicles packed with explosives barrelled toward the main gate of the base around 6am local time. The first vehicle, a four-wheel-drive car, blew up at the gate, said Hazrat Hussain Mashreqiwal, a spokesman for the provincial police chief. Guards started shooting at the second vehicle before it too exploded, he added. It was unclear whether the explosives were detonated by the attackers themselves or by shooting from the guards.
Two Afghan students from a private medical school were caught up in the attack and killed.