KANDAHAR: The Taliban armed with suicide vests, guns and rockets stormed a heavily fortified airfield in Afghanistan where Prince Harry is deployed, killing two US marines and attacking aircraft in a major security breach. In another incident 11 women and children from two families were killed when their vehicle hit explosive device in Helmand province. An Afghan policeman killed two Nato soldiers in the country’s south on Saturday.
The militia said it carried out the assault on Prince Harry’s base to avenge a US-made film deemed insulting to Islam that has sparked deadly riots across the Middle East and North Africa. The attack on Camp Bastion started at 10:15 pm on Friday and the base was cleared on Saturday morning, said US Army Major Adam Wojack. Prince Harry was never in danger, officials confirmed.
Although the Taliban have vowed to kill the third in line to the British throne, one of its spokesmen told AFP that the assault “had nothing to do with the prince.” General Sayed Malook, head of the Afghan army in the south, said a suicide bomber blew himself up, blasting a hole in the perimeter wall and allowing insurgents to storm inside with guns and rocket-propelled grenades. “As soon as they entered the base, fighting started. Afghan forces were not involved, they only helped to extinguish the fire,” Malook told AFP.
A fuel reservoir and an aircraft hangar were set alight and it took until dawn to extinguish the blaze, he said.
The US-led Nato forces said multiple aircraft and “structures” were damaged in the assault on the airfield, which is used by both American and British forces.
Eighteen insurgents were killed — including the suicide bomber — and another was wounded and captured, said Wojack. They were dressed in camouflage, he said, but declined to say whether it was Afghan army uniform. A defence official in Washington said two US Marines were killed, while Nato’s US-led International Security Assistance Force said some personnel were wounded, but gave no details, in line with policy.
The British defence ministry described the attack, on the eastern side of the runway, as “significant”. It said personnel were afterwards subject to a “lockdown” as the base was secured. “A number of Mujahideen fighters have carried out suicide attacks on Camp Bastion in Helmand in revenge for the insulting movie by the Americans,” spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi told AFP by telephone. The ISAF said it was assessing the extent of the damage to the camp, but the prince, who will spend four months at the base, was not affected. “He was not in any danger,” said Master Sergeant Bob Barko of ISAF.
Meanwhile, A bomb attack killed 11 women and children from two families, destroying their vehicle in southern Afghanistan, officials said Saturday. The device planted on the side of the road struck their minivan on Friday afternoon in Gereshk district of Helmand province. “Five women and a child from one family, and four women and two children from another family were killed in the blast,” the Helmand governor’s spokesman, Daud Ahmadi, told AFP. — AFP
Reuters adds: In the meanwhile, a man believed to be a member of the Afghan local police force turned his weapon on soldiers from the Nato-led forces in the country’s south on Saturday, killing two, the coalition said in a statement.