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Militants Attack Joint NATO-Afghan Base

A general view of a joint Afghan-U.S. base at the Zurmat district of Paktia province, October 17, 2012.

A general view of a joint Afghan-U.S. base at the Zurmat district of Paktia province, October 17, 2012.

A suicide bomber drove a vehicle packed with explosives into a joint NATO-Afghan army base in eastern Afghanistan, injuring at least 10 Afghan and coalition soldiers.

Taliban claim responsibility

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack in the southeastern province of Paktia. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the suicide bomber blew up a gate into the base, allowing militants to enter the area.

Coalition spokeswoman Lieutenant Amy Hession confirmed the assault, but said the compound was secure and damage to the base was being assessed.

“It was attacked by insurgents using a vehicle-borne IED and indirect fire. According to our current reporting, the attack resulted in several ANF and some ISAF wounded, but no fatalities,” said Hession.

Moral dwindling

According to NATO, on average 243 Afghan troops have been killed or wounded a month this year. An average of 292 police have been killed and wounded.

Wednesday’s attack highlighted the challenges Afghan security forces will increasingly face alone as international combat troops leave the country.

According to NATO, Afghan military attrition, while down slightly from last year, is still at 27 percent, almost one third of the entire force.

Retired Afghan General and military analyst Waheed Taqat says the army’s morale is being affected by a lack of resources in the face of constant attacks.

He says morale comes when there is military training, equipping, knowledge, and the number of forces a soldier has covering his back, whether he has aerial support or not. Taqat says if those elements are not there, then morale is gone.

The Afghan Ministry of Defense says at least three Afghan troops were critically wounded in the Paktia attack. Rohullan Samaoon is provincial governor.

He says attack caused a lot of damage to the base, as well as to shops and houses nearby, with several destroyed. He said 10 Afghan soldiers were wounded.
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    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.