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Coalition, Afghan Forces Repel Taliban Attacks on Bases in East Afghanistan

Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers stand guard near the body of a suicide attacker near US military camp Salerno on the outskirts of Khost city, 28 Aug 2010
Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers stand guard near the body of a suicide attacker near US military camp Salerno on the outskirts of Khost city, 28 Aug 2010

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Sean Maroney

Coalition officials in Afghanistan say their troops, along with Afghan security forces, have repelled insurgent attacks on a NATO base and on a U.S. camp in the eastern part of the country.  Officials say at least 24 attackers died, while the coalition and Afghan troops did not suffer any casualties.

Officials with the international forces in Afghanistan say insurgents launched the attacks early Saturday against coalition outposts in Khost province.

"At approximately 4 a.m., an unknown number of insurgents wearing U.S. military uniforms simultaneously launched attacks against Forward Operating Base Salerno and Forward Operation Base Chapman with indirect fire, rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire," said ISAF spokesman James Judge.

A Taliban spokesman said the militant group attacked with about 30 fighters, including suicide bombers.

Judge said coalition forces discovered at least one of the attackers on the Salerno base had ties to the Haqqani network, an Afghan Taliban group believed to be based in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region along Afghanistan's border.

"Mudasir, a Haqqani Network facilitator for improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers, along with two other insurgents, were killed in an air strike carried out by coalition forces as they were observed fleeing the attack in a vehicle," Judge added.

Following the attack, Afghan police said they seized two vehicles loaded with explosives and ammunition.

Later Saturday, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, told reporters that militant groups, such as the Haqqani network, remain a problem because they operate from sanctuaries outside Afghanistan.

He mentioned that U.S., Afghan and Pakistani officials have been working together more to combat the issue of militant sanctuaries in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal regions.  While he commended the Pakistani military for its efforts in rooting out militants in some areas, he said more coordination is needed in the future.

"As one side pursues extremists and pushes them in one direction, the other side is waiting and doesn't just enable a new sanctuary," said General Petraeus.

Suspected U.S. missile strikes repeatedly have targeted al-Qaida-linked elements, such as the Haqqani network in North Waziristan, but the Pakistani military has focused its energy on combating domestic Taliban groups in other areas of northwestern Pakistan.

Pakistani officials say they want to secure gains before opening a new front on the war against militants.  At the same time, Pakistani military resources have gone into the massive aid effort for the millions of people affected by the country's worst flooding.

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