21 Aug 2012

Afghan rocket hits US army chief's plane

10:13 pm on 21 August 2012

A rocket fired on a US air base in Afghanistan has damaged the aircraft of America's top military officer and wounded two maintenance crew.

Two rockets fired by insurgents struck the vast Bagram air base on Monday night, with one causing damage to the C-17 used by General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Shrapnel from the rocket struck the door of the plane while it was parked on the runway, AFP reports.

Although sporadic shelling of Bagram is not uncommon, Taliban insurgents rarely manage to inflict serious damage or casualties at the base, according to military reports.

General Dempsey had been visiting Kabul to meet with commanders of the NATO-led force and Afghan top brass amid a surge in assaults by Afghan security personnel on their international colleagues.

A total of 10 soldiers, mostly Americans, have been killed by their Afghan allies in the past two weeks, and the attacks have caused almost one in every four coalition deaths in the war so far this month.

The total of 40 deaths so far this year amount to 13 per cent of all international coalition fatalities in 2012.

NATO has about 130,000 soldiers fighting an insurgency by Taliban Islamists, but they are due to pull out in 2014 and now work increasingly with the Afghans they are training to take over.