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Kabul Korrespondence

Fresh, factual, and funky view of Afghanistan and the surrounding Central Asian region

The Taliban strikes back

Friday, May 21, 2010

By DEXTER FILKINS

Taliban insurgents launched a brazen but ultimately futile assault on the American base at Bagram on Wednesday morning, igniting a ferocious gun battle that left at least one American contractor dead, a dozen soldiers wounded and 10 guerrillas dead.

Four of the insurgents wore suicide vests but were killed before they could detonate them, American officers said. Earlier in the day, a Taliban spokesman had claimed that seven fighters had struck at Bagram’s gates and allowed 30 others to get inside.

Americans officers said the attempt failed.

“At no time were Bagram defenses breached,” said Col. Wayne Shanks, a spokesman for the American command. No suicide bombings succeeded, he said.

Still, the attack represented an aggressive attempt by the Taliban to strike at one of the most important symbols of American power here. Bagram Air Base, about 50 miles north of Kabul, is one of the largest American bases in the country and the headquarters for the military campaign in the east.

While the details were sketchy, it seems clear, given the number of American casualties, that the Taliban fighters had successfully infiltrated the area and achieved some level of surprise on the heavily fortified base.
posted by Travis, 10:30 am

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