September 18, 2012

Taliban Launch Massive Attack on Key NATO Base

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Sophistication and surprise
Three coordinated teams of Taliban insurgents dressed in U.S. Army uniforms launched a complex attack early Saturday morning on one of the most heavily fortified NATO bases in Afghanistan, Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, killing two Marines and destroying or severely damaging eight attack jets (NYT, AP, LAT, ). Causing over $200 million in damage, the bold attack was the costliest that the international coalition has suffered during the 11-year war in terms of damage wrought. In their statement claiming responsibility for the attack, the Taliban said Saturday that it was in response to the anti-Islam film that has riled many in the Muslim world over the past week (Reuters).
Six NATO troops were killed this weekend in two "insider attacks" by Afghan security forces; an Afghan policeman killed two British soldiers as they returned to base from patrol on Saturday in Helmand Province, and another Afghan police officer turned his gun on NATO service members at a checkpoint in Zabul Province, killing four U.S. soldiers (AP, CNN, Reuters, LAT, AP, Post). And on Monday, an Afghan soldier opened fire on a car he believed NATO soldiers were driving inside of a joint NATO-Afghan camp in Helmand Province, wounding a foreign civilian worker (AP).

Local officials in Laghman Province said Sunday that at least eight women had died in a NATO airstrike that day, and NATO later confirmed that between five and eight civilians had been killed (BBC, AFP, NYT). President Hamid Karzai "strongly condemned" the attack, as well as the U.S. military's continued control over around 600 Afghan detainees at the Parwan detention facility in Bagram, which was formally handed over to the Afghans last week.

The Afghan parliament voted Saturday to approve all three of President Karzai's nominations for the country's Minister of the Interior, Minister of Defense, and head of the spy agency (NYT, Reuters). And thousands of Afghans took to the streets in Kabul on Monday to burn tires and throw stones at police and buildings, as anger spread over the American-made anti-Islam film entitled Innocence of Muslims (NYT, Reuters).

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