1 Jul 2010

Taliban attack NATO air base in Afghanistan

12:22 am on 1 July 2010

One of the biggest NATO bases in Afghanistan came under attack from Taliban fighters on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, Lieutenant-Commander Iain Baxter, confirmed the Jalalabad airfield in the east of the country was under attack.

It is NATO's largest base in Afghanistan after Kandahar and Bagram in Kabul, which have both been attacked by insurgents in recent months.

Two NATO personnel were wounded after the insurgents set off a car bomb and fired rocket-propelled grenades.

A Taliban spokesman said six suicide attackers took part in the assault.

It comes a day after the man chosen to take over command of United States and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, warned of an industrial strength insurgency in the country.

Petraeus warns fighting will escalate

General Petraeus is to replace General Stanley McChrystal, who was fired last week after being quoted in a magazine article disparaging President Barack Obama and his advisers.

In a prepared statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Petraeus restated his support for Mr Obama's July 2011 date to start withdrawing US troops, but emphasised it was the start of a process.

"The going inevitably gets tougher before it gets easier," he told the committee, which backed his nomination to lead the war.

The general said troops were engaged in a contest of wills with the Taliban. He promised a more co-ordinated approach to the fighting.

General Petraeus said he would review rules of engagement limiting the use of force by US troops and aircraft. The rules have been criticised by some who say they put US troops at unnecessary risk in efforts to protect Afghan civilians.

The Senate committee on Tuesday approved his nomination, clearing the way for a full Senate vote.