Friday, September 14, 2012

Two killed in attack on US base in Afghanistan near Prince Harry

It is understood that the firefight involved American soldiers and not British forces. Prince Harry, who was deployed recently, is not believed to be affected. US officials told the Reuters news agency at least two US marines had been killed in a "complex" Taliban attack.

The coalition base comprises the British Camp Bastion and the American Camp Leatherneck, and accommodates more than 21,000 people.

Camp Leatherneck itself, which was built to cope with the extra US troops, measures 13 sq miles. British troops are understood to provide security for the main runway on the American camp.

Rockets and mortar were fired from outside, damaging buildings and aircraft. As well as the deaths, a number have been reported wounded.

The forces said Bastion had not been breached.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "The MoD is aware of an incident that has taken place at Bastion this evening.
"The incident is being dealt with."
It is the most serious attack on Bastion. Earlier this year, an Afghan worker made an attempt on the life of US defence secretary Leon Panetta by driving at his plane as he landed at Camp Bastion.
The car burst into flames as it drove towards a welcoming committee, injuring a British serviceman.
The fighting broke out after protests swept the Middle East over an amateur film that mocked Islam. Western embassies in Libya, Egypt and Sudan were among those that were raided and looted.
Meanwhile, an insurgent negotiator warned Afghanistan faced civil war when American troops leave the country.
Ghairat Baheer, a senior figure in Hizb-i-Islami, who has held three meetings with US officials in Kabul, said the withdrawal of US combat troops by the end of 2014 would leave Afghan forces ill-equipped to withstand the combined threat of insurgent groups.
However, earlier this week, Philip Hammond, the Defence secretary visited British troops in Afghanistan and revealed a sea change in the approach to the withdrawal taken by military commanders.
He said the Afghan forces had taken control more readily than had been expected.
"I think there is a bit of a rethinking going on about how many troops we do actually need,” he said, speaking in an interview with the Guardian.
“There may be some scope for a little bit more flexibility on the way we draw down, and that is something commanders on the ground are looking at very actively."
Prince Harry is currently on duty as an Apache helicopter pilot in Camp Bastion after his deployment was revealed last week.
The Taliban dismissed his role as a propaganda stunt and claimed he was there to "atone" for the embarrassment caused by leaked pictures of him naked in a Las Vegas hotel room.
Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the insurgents, said: "The British Army is under pressure, just like the other forces in Afghanistan, and Britain wants to encourage its soldiers with such actions.
"And also the Prince was seen in naked pictures in England. To cover this shame, maybe he can atone by showing that he is fighting beside their soldiers in Afghanistan."
"The British haven't been able to do anything here in Afghanistan with all their soldiers. They can't do anything with their Prince here either," Mujahid added.


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