Nato repels daring assaults on Afghan bases by insurgents in US uniform

American troops face bloodiest month since 2001, as Kabul denies 'insulting' claims that adviser to President is in the pay of CIA

Insurgents wearing US army uniforms launched an audacious co-ordinated attack on two major Nato bases in eastern Afghanistan early yesterday morning. The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said the attacks were repelled with five insurgents captured and 24 killed, four of whom were wearing suicide vests. The Afghan Defence Ministry added that two Afghan soldiers were killed in the fighting and two wounded.

The assaults were on the sprawling Camp Salerno and nearby Camp Chapman in Khost at about 3am – just before morning prayers. The camps are about 60 miles south-east of Kabul, close to the border with Pakistan. The area is a hotbed of insurgent activity. In December seven CIA officers were killed in a suicide bombing on Camp Chapman – the worst attack on the CIA in 25 years.

In recent months the Taliban have been launching increasingly sophisticated guerrilla-style attacks on Nato bases, with similar assaults launched at Bagram, Jalalabad and Kandahar.

Afghan police said about 50 insurgents armed with rifles, heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons were involved in the latest assault. Two insurgents did manage to breach the perimeter of Camp Salerno but were monitored as they cut the fence and were killed immediately.

"Coalition forces had the two insurgents under surveillance and when they cut the fence a quick reaction force was dispatched to the location, where they were killed," an Isaf statement said. Small-arms fire continued through the morning.

Major Wazir Pacha, of the provincial police headquarters, added that they had captured a pickup truck full of ammunition along with a light truck packed with explosives – which may have been intended for use in a suicide bombing – that had become stuck in deep mud. Bomb specialists later destroyed the truck and its cargo. After being repelled from the bases, the insurgents approached the nearby offices of the governor and provincial police headquarters but were driven off.

"Given the size of the enemy's force, this could have been a major catastrophe for Khost. Luckily we prevented it," Khost's provincial police chief, Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai, said.

Nato said the dead insurgents were members of the Haqqani network, a Taliban-affiliated group with strong ties to al-Qa'ida that is accused of launching frequent raids across the border from neighbouring Pakistan.

An airstrike on a truck in which insurgents were fleeing killed a senior Haqqani explosives expert suspected of arranging suicide bomb attacks, along with two other militants. Isaf said last week that it had captured a senior commander of the local Taliban network in Khost – although it is not clear whether the arrest is connected to the latest attacks.

On Friday, homemade bombs killed three American soldiers in southern and eastern Afghanistan, bringing the total number of foreign troops killed in Afghanistan this month to 55, including 35 Americans, according to a count by the Associated Press. July was the deadliest month for US forces in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion, with 66 killed.

Also yesterday 48 schoolgirls, boys and teachers were hospitalised in the second case this week of suspected poisoning caused by an unidentified chemical substance. Most were discharged within hours of becoming ill with nausea, headaches and dizziness at Kabul's Zabihullah Esmati high school. The Taliban, who oppose female education, have been suspected in similar cases.

And Afghanistan's presidential office condemned reports in the American media that Afghan government officials have received payments from the CIA in return for information. A US newspaper report that a key national security adviser to the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, was being paid by the CIA is an insult to Afghanistan aimed at discrediting Mr Karzai's government, his office said on Saturday.

Citing Afghan and US officials, The New York Times reported last week that Mohammed Zia Salehi, who is under investigation for allegedly soliciting bribes, has been in the pay of the American spy agency for years.

The Washington Post made further claims that the CIA was paying a significant number of people in Mr Karzai's administration.

"Afghanistan's government... considers such an assertion an insult," a statement from Mr Karzai's office said. "We strongly condemn such irresponsible publicity which creates suspicion and doubt and discredits officials of our country."

Mr Salehi was arrested by Afghan police in a dawn raid in July as part of investigations into corruption – a major source of tension between Mr Karzai and the US – but was released after the Afghan leader intervened.

The statement from Mr Karzai's office added that the claims were part of an effort to deflect attention from tasks such as banning foreign security firms, a populist measure that the President announced earlier this month.

The private security companies have been given four months to pack up, a decree that drew criticism from Washington. Afghanistan faces parliamentary elections next month and such firms have long been an irritant for many Afghans.

"Afghanistan believes that making such allegations will not strengthen the alliance against terrorism and will not strengthen an Afghanistan based on the law and rules, but will have negative effects in those areas," the statement said.

"This is part of the routine politics of foreign newsmongering outlets and their spy agencies, who try to influence other nations."

Suggested Topics
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Application Support - Enterprise Java, SQL, Oracle, SQL Server

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A well-established financial soft...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape