Taliban forces attacked a large coalition airfield in eastern Afghanistan early Sunday, detonating three car bombs near the entrance and engaging in a two-hour gun battle that killed nine Taliban, four puppet guards and at least four civilians whose vehicle was caught in the cross-fire.
At least 10 US troops were wounded, though by late Sunday it remained unclear exactly how many had been hurt, and how severely. At least one of the guards killed in the fighting was a member of the Afghan military.
Forward Operating Base Fenty is primarily run by Americans and is one of the larger airfields in eastern Afghanistan. Like other large coalition bases, Fenty has been attacked before, including in February.
Local officials said that two of the civilians killed were doctors, their car riddled by gunfire about 50 yards from the base. The doctors had been on their way to work in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar Province, said Hajji Niamatullah Khan, the district governor of Behsood. In addition, at least three private security guards on duty at the outer perimeter were killed, he said.
Coalition forces had few details about the extent of the damage from the Taliban assault.
Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said medical evacuation helicopters could be seen ferrying dead and wounded American soldiers from the scene, “which shows that heavy casualties were inflicted” by the attackers.
He also said that a Toyota sport utility vehicle packed with explosives had leveled one of the guard towers. He said that some of the attackers were wearing “foreign” military uniforms, a tactic that the Taliban have employed in previous assaults on coalition bases. An official from the American-led coalition confirmed that at least some of the attackers wore coalition uniforms.
The last major assault against a coalition base was in September, when the Taliban blew up eight Harrier attack jets and killed two Marines at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province. The militants, wearing United States Army uniforms, caused more than $200 million in damage in that attack.