KHOST, Afghanistan, August 28, (Reuters) - Foreign and Afghan troops repelled attacks on two bases in eastern Afghanistan today, officials said, with the Taliban saying suicide bombers were among 30 of its fighters who launched the raids.
The attacks targeted the U.S. military's Forward Operating Base Chapman and at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost province near the eastern border with Pakistan, where U.S. and other foreign forces have been stepping up operations against a resurgent Taliban.
Taliban-led insurgents have launched increasingly brazen attacks around Afghanistan in a bid to topple the government and force out foreign troops. More than 2,000 foreign troops have been killed, most of them Americans, since the conflict began.
Hundreds of civilians have also been caught in the crossfire, with civilian deaths spiking by 31 percent in the first six months of this year, according to a United Nations report.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said air support was called in after the bases came under attack from arms and rockets or mortar rounds early on Saturday. There have been several similar attacks against foreign military bases and Afghan government buildings in the east in the past year.
“ISAF ground forces, supported by combat aviation assets, killed at least 10 insurgents, captured several more and destroyed one recoilless rifle,” ISAF said in a statement.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, said 30 fighters had attacked the bases. They included suicide bombers and others armed with rockets and machine guns, Mujahid told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.
He said about 20 of the fighters had been sent against the Salerno base.
Khost police chief Abdul Hakim Ishaaqzai said the bodies of 14 insurgents were found near the two bases. He said two vehicles packed with ammunition and explosives were seized.