KABUL, July 13: A multi-pronged militant assault on a small, remote US base killed 10 American soldiers and wounded 15 on Sunday in the deadliest attack on US forces in Afghanistan in three years.
The attack on the US outpost came the same day a suicide bomber blew himself up in a market, killing 24 people, 19 of them civilians, while US coalition and Afghan soldiers killed 40 militants elsewhere in the south.
The militant assault on the American troops began around 4:30 am in a dangerous region close to the Pakistan border. It lasted throughout the day.
Militants fired machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars from homes and a mosque in the village of Wanat in the mountainous northeastern province of Kunar, Nato’s International Security Assistance Force said in a statement.
Nine US troops were killed in the attack, a Western official said on condition of anonymity.
Nato confirmed nine of its soldiers had been killed and 15 wounded. Four Afghan soldiers were also wounded, Nato said.
“Although no final assessment has been made, it is believed insurgents suffered heavy casualties during several hours of fighting,” Nato said in a statement.
Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green, the top US military spokeswoman in Afghanistan, said she could not comment because the fight was ongoing.
The attack appeared to be the deadliest for US troops in Afghanistan since June 2005, when 16 American troops were killed -- also in Kunar province -- when their helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade.
Sunday’s attack came during a period of rising violence in Afghanistan. Monthly death tolls of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan surpassed US military deaths in Iraq in May and June. Last Monday, a suicide bomber attacked the Indian Embassy in Kabul, killing 58 people in the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since 2001.
The high casualty tolls have prompted the International Committee of the Red Cross this week to ask all sides to show restraint and avoid civilian casualties. But violence continued around the country on Sunday.
A suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up in Uruzgan, killing 24 people.
The bomb attack at a busy intersection of the Deh Rawood district killed five police officers and 19 civilians, wounding more than 30 others, said Juma Gul Himat, Uruzgan’s police chief. Most of those killed and wounded were shopkeepers and young boys selling goods in the street, he said.
Elsewhere, Taliban militants executed two women in central Afghanistan on Saturday after accusing them of working as prostitutes on a US base.
The women, dressed in blue burqas, were shot and killed just outside Ghazni city in central Afghanistan, said Sayed Ismal, a spokesman for Ghazni’s governor. He called the two innocent local people.
Taliban fighters told Associated Press Television News the two women were executed for allegedly running a ‘prostitution ring’ catering to US soldiers and other foreign contractors at a US base in Ghazni city.
1st Lt. Nathan Perry, a US military spokesman, said he had not heard allegations anything close to that nature.
Meanwhile, at least 40 militants were killed following an attack on Afghan and US-led coalition forces in Helmand province, the coalition said in a statement.
The militants attacked the combined forces near Sangin on Saturday from multiple concealed and fortified positions, the coalition said. Thirty enemy boats and several small bridges have been destroyed on the Helmand river during two days of fighting, it said. A soldier with Nato’s International Security Assistance Force died in a roadside blast in Helmand province on Sunday, a statement said.—Agencies