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Posts Tagged ‘ISAF

Militants attack key NATO base in Afghanistan

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KABUL – The Taliban said Sunday they were behind an attack on NATO’s main base in southern Afghanistan, the third on international forces in a week, showing their determination to meet fire with fire.

US soldiers walk to board a helicopter at an airfield in Kandahar on May 7. The Taliban has said they …

As US and NATO troops escalate operations against the militants in their heartland of Kandahar province, the Taliban are making good on threats of a nationwide campaign against targets allied with the Kabul government.

“We attacked Kandahar air base with rockets last night,” Yousuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, told AFP by phone from an undisclosed location.

The attack in Kandahar was the third on international forces in a matter of days after a suicide attack in the capital on Tuesday and an attack on Bagram Airfield, about 60 kilometres (35 miles) north of Kabul, the following day.

Seven hours of fighting at Bagram resulted in the deaths of an American contract worker and 16 militants, NATO said. Nine NATO soldiers were wounded.

Earlier this month the Taliban announced a new nationwide campaign of attacks in Afghanistan, targeting diplomats, Afghan parliamentarians and foreign contractors, as well as foreign forces.

Ahmadi said that one rocket landed near a shopping strip on the Kandahar Airfield (KAF), another near a helicopter landing zone.

The attack had caused “massive damage,” he said, adding that the militants had killed 13 foreign soldiers and wounded many others.

The Taliban regularly exaggerate the impact of their operations.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said there were no fatalities in the attack, which began around 8:00 pm (1530 GMT) on Saturday.

“A number of ISAF personnel and civilian workers have been injured and are receiving medical treatment. There are no confirmed fatalities,” an ISAF statement said.

A total of five rockets were fired into the base and “a number of insurgents were attempting to enter the base on the north side. They were repelled by security forces,” it said.

KAF is the main base in the area for troops fighting the insurgency, which is concentrated in Kandahar. It houses around 23,000 personnel.

The base regularly comes under rocket fire, when all personnel are ordered to take cover until an all-clear is sounded.

KAF sits on the edge of Kandahar city, the provincial capital, where Taliban are digging in as US, NATO and Afghan troops build an operation aimed at squeezing the militants out of their traditional home.

The attack came just hours after Britain’s new foreign minister William Hague met President Hamid Karzai in Kabul to discuss the security situation in Afghanistan, where Britain has 10,000 troops.

Hague, accompanied by Defence Secretary Liam Fox and International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, said they had made clear to Karzai that Britain expected to see his government make progress to match the international strategy for ending the insurgency.

Britain’s military and aid commitment in Afghanistan is the second-biggest behind the US.

There are currently 130,000 troops in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban insurgency under US and NATO command.

The number of foreign troops is set to rise to 150,000 by August as part of a US-led counter-insurgency strategy aimed at speeding up the end of the war now well into its ninth year.

Most of the fresh troops are being deployed to the southern hotspots of Kandahar and neighbouring Helmand province, and military planners say they hope to have eradicated the Taliban threat by the start of Ramadan in August.

The road between Kabul and Kandahar was the scene on Sunday of a Taliban ambush on a police convoy that killed the police chief of a district of Ghazni province, the provincial governor, Mohammad Musa Akbarzada said.

Mohammad Nabi Patang, police chief of Andar district, was travelling to the provincial capital, also called Ghazni, when his convoy was attacked, Akbarzada told AFP.

The Taliban were blamed for a bomb attack on an Afghan police vehicle on Saturday in the Manogay district of Kunar province, in which four police officers and four civilians were wounded, the interior ministry said.

In Kapisa province northeast of Kabul, five Afghan civilians were killed on Saturday when an anti-tank mine left over from the Soviet invasion exploded as they were digging on their farmland, the ministry said.

Canada wants to use Pak bases for Afghan pullout

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* Request still under consideration by Foreign Office

By Iqbal Choudhry

ISLAMABAD: As NATO countries are planning to leave Afghanistan, the Canadian government has requested Pakistani authorities to allow them the use of Pakistani airbases during the withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan, sources told Daily Times on Thursday.

According to the sources, Canadian troops will leave Afghanistan next year and their government wants to use Pakistani airbases for ‘convenience’ during the departure.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told Daily Times that his ministry had received a request from the Canadian government, however, it had not been decided yet if they would be allowed to use the airbases.

Under the set procedure, the Foreign Ministry has to consult the Defence Ministry before giving the final approval. The request, however, is still being considered by the FO.

To a similar question, Fareeha Iftikhar, from the Media and Advocacy Office of the Canadian High Commission, said Canada would end its military mission in Afghanistan in July 2011 and complete the withdrawal of its forces by December.

“We are currently planning to end the mission in Afghanistan but it is too early to provide any details at this time,” she said.

Around 2,800 Canadian Forces personnel are currently deployed in Afghanistan as part of the ISAF forces.

Pakistan is considered as a direct route to Afghanistan, hence it is believed that the countries wishing to leave NATO forces in Afghanistan would prefer Pakistani airbases due to its strategic importance.

On April 11, a day before the two-day Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, US President Barack Obama met his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev and their deliberations resulted in the US obtaining the right to fly troops and military equipment over (and later directly into) Kazakhstan for the escalating war in Afghanistan.