Tue, 31 Mar 2020

ISLAMABAD - A powerful bomb-and-gun attack on the largest American military base in Afghanistan early Wednesday killed at least one person and wounded more than 80 others, mostly civilians.

Afghan military authorities said a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed vehicle in front of the gate of an unused hospital almost adjacent to the Bagram Airfield in Parwan province.

The Taliban took responsibility for the attack. The Taliban claimed in a statement that one of the assailants blew up his vehicle-born bomb, destroying an outer wall of the Bagram base. It said the blast enabled a group of heavily armed Taliban fighters to storm the facility, sparking gun battles with foreign troops that were still raging.

The insurgent group often issues inflated details for such attack.

A spokesman for the NATO-led Resolute Support military mission confirmed the attack on the medical facility.

"The attack was quickly contained and repelled by our ANDSF [Afghan National Defense and Security] 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," he said.

Ahmadi said the casualties occurred in the nearby civilian population because the powerful car bomb explosion shattered houses there. He noted the blast caused the death of a woman while children and women were also among those injured. Ahmadi said the hospital was built by the Korean government but it had not been in use for four years due to security reasons.

On November 28, U.S. President Donald Trump made a surprise visit to Bagram, located about 50 kilometers north of the Afghan capital of Kabul, to celebrate Thanksgiving with his troops.

Wednesday's attack came as peace negotiations between the Trump administration and the Taliban are underway in Doha, Qatar, to find a political settlement to the Afghan war.

The two adversaries returned to the negotiating table last Saturday, three months after Trump had suspended the dialogue process citing intensified deadly Taliban attacks in Afghanistan. The two negotiating teams are focusing on reducing the battlefield violence and declaring a cease-fire to allow for Taliban-Afghan negotiations to begin.

But both sides have revealed little about the ongoing talks in the Gulf nation.

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