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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Jalalabad Base Attacked as Petraeus Assumes Command

KABUL, June 30: The Taliban gunmen on Wednesday set off a car bomb and fired rockets at a Nato base in eastern Afghanistan, officials said, as a soldier with the alliance died from injuries suffered in an attack in the same region.

Responsibility for the brazen daylight attack on the Jalalabad air base was claimed by the Taliban.

Several assailants were killed during the attack and two service personnel were injured, the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said.

“Jalalabad airfield is under attack,” Isaf spokesman Lieutenant-Commander Iain Baxter told AFP as the battle was under way. A local official said at least six Taliban militants were involved in the raid and that all had been killed.

The assault came just days before US General David Petraeus is due to take up his post as Nato commander in Afghanistan, after warning of a “tough fight” ahead in the nearly nine-year conflict.

Concerns about the progress of the war against the Taliban have mounted following the dramatic sacking of Gen Petraeus’s predecessor, US General Stanley McChrystal, and an increasing death toll among foreign troops.

The dramatic surge in military deaths has raised concerns over what many think is the Taliban gaining strength despite the deployment of thousands of US troops’ reinforcement.

Isaf announced the death of its 102nd soldier this month, saying he died on Wednesday from injuries suffered in an attack in eastern Afghanistan.

It did not disclose the exact location or any further details of the incident.

In a telephone call, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed claimed responsibility for the attack in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar — the latest strike against Nato bases in Afghanistan in recent weeks.—AFP

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