Afghan Officials: Up to 70 Taliban Killed in Base Attack

Posted November 9th, 2011 at 2:15 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Afghan officials say Afghan and NATO troops have killed at least 70 Taliban militants who launched an attack on a base near the Pakistani border.

A spokesman for the governor of Paktika province, Mukhlis Afghan, said the combined force repelled the assault late Tuesday in the Barmal district.

NATO said a large group of insurgents attacked the base with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. Troops called in coalition air support to help fight the militants. A NATO spokesman said there were no reports of coalition casualties.

The provincial spokesman said the militants came from the border region.

Earlier on Tuesday, Australia's defense ministry said an Afghan soldier shot and seriously wounded three Australian and two Afghan soldiers at a base in southern Afghanistan.

Officials say the Afghan soldier was armed with an automatic weapon and a grenade launcher when he opened fire at the base in Uruzgan province.

A search was underway for the shooter, who fled in an Afghan army vehicle.

The attack comes less than two weeks after another Afghan soldier shot dead three Australian soldiers and wounded seven others during a parade. It also took place just days after Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard returned from a trip to Afghanistan.

Ms. Gillard told reporters in Melbourne Wednesday that while the incidents are “distressing” and “dreadful,” the country's mission in Afghanistan must continue. The prime minister noted that training is pivotal to that mission and that troops aim to deny terrorists a country where they can train to “wreak violence around the world.”

Australia has 1,550 troops in Afghanistan, the largest number of any non-NATO member. At least 32 Australian troops have been killed in Afghanistan since the country joined the NATO-led coalition.

NATO said Wednesday that one of its service members was killed in an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan. The coalition did not give details, including the soldier's nationality.