NATO officials say insurgents who carried out Sunday's deadly assault
on a remote NATO outpost in eastern Afghanistan were able to penetrate
the base before they were driven away by U.S. air strikes. Nine
American soldiers were killed in the assault. Fifteen other U.S.
troops and four Afghan soldiers were wounded. From Islamabad, VOA's
Barry Newhouse has more on one of the single deadliest attacks for U.S.
forces since the 2001 invasion.
The attack began early Sunday
at a NATO outpost built just last week in Kunar, a province in eastern
Afghanistan that borders Pakistan.
NATO officials said a large
group of insurgents had secretly moved into a nearby village, where
they launched a complex assault that lasted for much of the day.
spokesman Mark Laity told reporters in Kabul that while insurgents
regularly attack combat outposts, Sunday's assault was larger than
normal and insurgents managed to fight their way inside fortified walls.
attempted to break into that base. They did make some penetration.
But over all they were repelled and they took very heavy casualties
themselves," Laity said. "And then we brought in air power to
stabilize the situation in a fight that then lasted for several hours."
was unclear how many insurgents were involved in the fighting, but the
NATO spokesman said airstrikes inflicted heavy casualties after the
fighters were repelled at the outpost.
It is also unclear where the insurgents came from or what group they belong to.
Afghan Taliban groups operate in the east of the country and U.S. and
Afghan officials say Pakistani Taliban fighters also regularly attack
NATO troops near the border. The fighting has led to a spike in NATO
troop deaths and criticism that Pakistan is not doing enough to crack
down on Taliban havens in its tribal regions.
officials counter that Afghan officials have been unwilling to work
more closely on controlling their shared 2500 kilometer border. They
also say Afghan and coalition forces can do more to stop militants from
crossing into Pakistan.
The increased tension over militant
safe havens has led several Pakistani officials to express worry that
the United States is considering unilateral military action against
fighters in the tribal regions. In recent days Pakistani officials from
across the political spectrum have insisted foreign troops will not be
allowed to operate in Pakistani territory.
Hussain, the chairman of Pakistan's Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
said resolving the situation should be done through dialogue - not
"The use of force is counter productive. We must engage
people in discussions and we welcome negotiations with those who are
willing to lay down their arms," he said.
talks, senior Pakistani leaders say they are aware how serious the
situation in the tribal regions has become. On Monday, Prime Minister
Yousuf Raza Gilani said he understands concerns that the tribal areas
could be used by foreign militants to plan international terrorist