Tue, 21 Jan 2020

KABUL -- Two suicide car-bomb blasts killed one person and wounded more than 65 others, including five Georgian soldiers, on December 11 on the main U.S. military base of Bagram in Afghanistan, local and NATO officials said.

The twin attack, which has not yet been claimed, comes as the United States last week resumed talks with the Taliban -- three months after President Donald Trump abruptly halted negotiations to end the 18-year war.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts. A provincial official said the casualties were all Afghans.

'A 30-minute clash also happened between the attackers, who obviously wanted to enter the base, and foreign forces,' said Wahida Shahkar, a spokeswoman for the governor of Parwan Province, where the base is located.

In a statement, the Georgian Defense Ministry confirmed that five of its soldiers were slightly injured in the attack, adding that their hospitalization was not necessary.

NATO's Resolute Support mission said there were no U.S. or coalition casualties and the airfield remained secure during the incident.

'Enemy forces conducted an attack on Bagram airfield this morning, targeting a medical facility being constructed to help the Afghan people who live near the base,' a Resolute Support statement said.

'The attack was quickly contained and repelled by [Afghan security forces] and coalition partners, but the future medical facility was badly damaged. There were no U.S. or coalition casualties and Bagram remained secure throughout the attack,'' it said.

Bagram district Governor Haji Abdul Shukur Quddusi said the explosion happened in the village of Jan Qadam near the Bagram airfield walls, situated north of Kabul.

Sporadic and ongoing gunfire was still heard at the scene, he added.

Bagram airfield is located some 50 kilometers north of Kabul.

The attack comes as U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad reportedly met with Taliban officials on December 7 in Qatar, the scene of previous negotiations abruptly called off three months ago by Trump.

The restart follows Trump's surprise Thanksgiving visit to see U.S. troops in Afghanistan on November 28, when he voiced hope that 'the Taliban wants to make a deal and we are meeting with them.'

With reporting by AP, dpa, and Reuters

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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