Militants attack NATO base in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban claimed responsibility today for a nighttime assault on NATO's biggest base in southern Afghanistan. Insurgents firing rockets, mortar shells and automatic weapons tried to storm Kandahar Air Field — the second such attack on a major military installation this week.

Several coalition troops and civilian employees were wounded in the assault Saturday night, but there were no reports of deaths, officials said.

A Canadian Press news agency report from Kandahar said artillery and machine gun fire reverberated through the base, about 300 miles southwest of Kabul, several hours after the attack began. Militants unleashed rockets and mortars about 8 p.m. and then tried to storm the northern perimeter, officials said.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi told the Associated Press that Taliban fighters attacked the base from two sides and fired more than 15 rockets.

It was the third major attack on NATO forces in Afghanistan in six days.

The attacks follow a Taliban announcement of a spring offensive against NATO forces and Afghan government troops — their response to a promise by the Obama administration to squeeze the Taliban out of their strongholds in the southern province of Kandahar.

Attacks in the south earlier Saturday killed three NATO service members — one American, one French and one Dutch — and an Afghan interpreter.

Deaths

As of Saturday, 997 U.S. troops have died in the Afghanistan war. Identifications as reported by the U.S. military and not previously published:

Army Pfc. Billy G. Anderson, 20, Alexandria, Tenn.; explosion Monday; Badghis province.

Army Staff Sgt. Shane S. Barnard, 38, Desmet, S.D.; explosion Wednesday; Zabul province.

Army Sgt. Denis D. Kisseloff, 45, St. Charles, Mo.; combat May 14; Forward Operating Base Shank.

Marine Cpl. Nicholas D. Paradarodriguez, 29, Stafford, Va.; combat May 16; Helmand province.

Marine Staff Sgt. Adam L. Perkins, 27, Antelope, Calif.; combat Monday; Helmand province.

Navy Petty Officer Zarian Wood, 29, Houston; explosion May 16; Helmand province.

Militants attack NATO base in Afghanistan 05/22/10 [Last modified: Sunday, May 23, 2010 12:35am]

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