Suicide attack inflicts worst death toll on CIA in 25 years

Seven agents killed in base bombing while roadside blast kills five Canadians

Seven Americans killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan were CIA officers, the agency said yesterday. The assault was the deadliest inflicted on the spy agency since 1983, and the second deadliest in its history.

Last night the Taliban admitted responsibility for Wednesday's attack, in which a suicide bomber dressed in Afghan army uniform blew himself up in a gym at Forward Operating Base Chapman, in Khost province. The blast was at one of the most secretive and highly guarded military locations in Afghanistan, and on the frontline of the counter-insurgency campaign.

The CIA station chief in Khost, a mother of three, was among the dead. Six other CIA personnel were injured in the blast. Initial reports had said eight Americans were killed.

Officers, agents and special forces quartered at the base were part of the alliance's so-called "decapitation campaign" targeting Taliban and al-Qa'ida leaders.

The Khost bombing came within hours of a roadside explosion in Kandahar which claimed the lives of five Canadians and which was also the work of the Taliban.

Intelligence gathered at the Khost base was used for operations both in Afghanistan and, through unmanned Predator strikes, across the border into Pakistan. Its infiltration by the Taliban raises fresh doubts about the reliability of Afghan forces now being trained as part of the West's exit strategy from the conflict. Around 200 Afghans had been hired for security duties at the base.

The attack took place at dusk as unarmed Americans were working out in the gym. Six others, also described as civilians and presumed to be CIA staff, were injured, two of them critically.

Deaths in the ranks of the CIA, especially those involving local recruits, are shrouded in secrecy. In the past eight years, the CIA has acknowledged the deaths of four officers in Afghanistan. Former agents said the agency had not suffered such a high casualty toll since an attack on the US embassy in Beirut in 1983, when eight CIA employees were among 60 killed.

Khost, in south-eastern Afghanistan, lies on an insurgent supply route. The area borders north Waziristan in Pakistan, which has long been a base for al-Qa'ida and other Islamist groups. American and Afghan military have come under repeated attacks in the province, with 13 civilians killed and 36 injured in May. In 1998 the US fired missiles into an al-Qa'ida camp in Khost, then in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, after attacks on American embassies in Africa. Osama bin Laden, the intended target, escaped after being warned, it is believed, by the Pakistani intelligence service.

The CIA and other American and allied Western intelligence agencies have steadily raised their presence in Afghanistan. Bruce Hoffman, a professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, said the assault was a serious reversal in Nato's war efforts, as those killed and injured knew the terrain: "Every American death in a theatre of war is tragic, but these might be more consequential given these officers' unique capabilities and attributes."

In the second bombing, in the southern city of Kandahar, a roadside blast killed four Canadian soldiers and a 34-year-old journalist, Michelle Lang, a health reporter with the Calgary Herald.

Meanwhile the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, has condemned the killings of eight young Afghans during a raid by US special forces in Kunar province. Reports of a massacre surfaced on Monday, prompting an Afghan investigation. According to a statement on President Karzai's website, "a unit of international forces descended from a plane Sunday night into Ghazi Khan Village... and took 10 people from three homes, eight of them school students in grades six, nine and 10, one of them a guest, the rest from the same family, and shot them dead."

The International Security Assistance Force insisted that only insurgents had been killed in the raid, but Kai Eide, the UN's envoy in Afghanistan, said eight of the dead were teenagers enrolled in local schools.

"If Washington and its allies are to win a guerrilla war, the CIA's expertise is vital"

Editorial, page 30

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
books
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
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
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
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
Latest stories from i100
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

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Day In a Page

Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state