A major U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan came under attack early Sunday morning by Taliban suicide bombers, who detonated explosives at the gates and exchanged gunfire with U.S. helicopters for at least two hours.
Two suicide bombers died after blowing themselves up in cars, Nasir Ahmad Safi, a spokesman for the provincial government, told Reuters.
Seven other bombers were killed in the battle with Afghan and coalition forces. Three Afghan soldiers and two civilians also died, said Safi. Several coalition troops were also wounded.
The assault on Forward Operating Base Fenty, a facility next to the Jalalabad airfield, began at 6 a.m. and the fighting ended by mid-morning.
"We can confirm insurgents, including multiple suicide bombers, attacked Jalalabad Airfield this morning. None of the attackers succeeded in breaching the perimeter," Lt. Col. Hagen Messer, a German spokesman for the international military coalition, told the Associated Press in an email.
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"They didn't get inside," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Paul Haverstick, a spokesman for the coalition's Regional Command-East. "It was more shock and awe than anything successful."
The attack highlighted the looming security vacuum in Afghanistan with the foreign combat troops slated to pull out in 2014.
Afghan officials told BBC that first four attackers had arrived in explosive-laden cars and had targeted different entrances to the airfield, while three others who had followed on foot attacked security guards.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, in messages to Reuters and the AP, claimed to have stormed the facility bringing “heavy casualties to the enemy.”
A coalition soldier was killed in a separate attack in the south, the force said.