World

Taliban attack Afghan airfield

NATO and Afghan forces clash with insurgents after an airfield is attacked outside the Afghan city of Jalalabad.
Smoke rises from a base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on Wednesday after Taliban insurgents raided a base for foreign troops. ((Parwiz/Reuters))

NATO and Afghan forces clashed with insurgents Wednesday after the insurgents attacked an airfield outside the Afghan city of Jalalabad.

Eight militants were killed in a gun battle after a suicide car bombing at the entrance to the airport, authorities said. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed that "several" insurgents were killed in battle but did not provide an exact number.

Two combined security force members sustained minor injuries during the clash and there were no reports of civilian injuries, ISAF said.

After the car bombing, a group of militants, using light weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, battled international forces for about 30 minutes, according to information provided by the media office at the airport.

ISAF said the perimeter of the airfield was not breached during the attack, noting that the attack only temporarily disrupted operations at the facility, which is on a main road on the outskirts of the city that leads to the Pakistani border.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. In a text message to The Associated Press in Kabul, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said six suicide attackers killed dozens of foreign and Afghan security forces at the airport, about 125 kilometres east of the Afghan capital. The militant group frequently exaggerates its claims.

In late May, insurgents launched an attack on Kandahar Airfield. Suicide bombers and insurgents also attacked the giant U.S.-run Bagram Airfield north of Kabul in May, leading to a deadly clash that left at least 10 insurgents dead and several U.S. soldiers wounded.

Elsewhere in the east, U.S. and Afghan forces battled hundreds of militants from an al-Qaeda-linked group for a third day Tuesday in Kunar province, the U.S. military said. Two U.S. soldiers were killed Sunday in the first day of the operation.

The attack in Kunar was directed at insurgents believed responsible for the roadside bombing that killed five American service members in the area on June 7, a U.S. statement said.

The militants were believed to be members of the Haqqani group, a faction of the Taliban based in Pakistan that has close ties to al-Qaeda. About 600 U.S. and Afghan troops are taking part in the operation, the U.S. statement said.

With files from The Associated Press