A Taliban suicide bomber on a motorcycle drove into a military convoy near Bagram air base on Monday, killing six U.S. soldiers, in one of the deadliest attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan this year.
The attack came as Taliban forces have continued seizing territory across Afghanistan, dragging more U.S. troops directly into the fight despite commanders’ continued insistence that the focus of the NATO force in the country remains on training and advising. As the battle intensified this fall, the Obama administration reversed plans to begin withdrawing troops this year, choosing to leave 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan through at least 2016.
Even away from the most intense battlegrounds, in southern and eastern Afghanistan, and with Afghan forces nominally taking the lead in the fighting, U.S. forces have remained at risk, with at least 15 service members killed this year before the attack Monday.
The Taliban suicide bomber struck a joint patrol of U.S. and Afghan troops that was moving through a village near Bagram air base, a sprawling base north of Kabul that is populated largely by U.S. service members and contractors, Afghan and U.S. officials said.
A statement by Defense Secretary Ash Carter confirmed that the six American service members had been killed, and it said that another two had been wounded, along with a contractor for the U.S. military. The White House expressed condolences to the families of the dead.
“The United States condemns this cowardly attack on members of the U.S. and Afghan forces, and we remain committed to supporting the Afghan people and their government,” the White House’s statement said.
Abdul Shakor Qudosi, the district governor of Bagram, said three Afghan police officers were wounded in the attack, but it was not clear whether that was in addition to the wounded mentioned by U.S. officials, or whether he had different information. “The suicide bomber was riding a motorcycle and struck a joint patrol” of Afghan and U.S. soldiers, Qudosi said.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack in a Twitter message.
(Article courtesy of The New York Times)
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