Insurgents early Wednesday launched a bold attack on the largest U.S. installation in Afghanistan, leaving at least seven of the attackers dead.
The fighting at the sprawling, heavily fortified Bagram air base, about 30 miles north of Kabul, began at dawn when Taliban fighters attacked with rockets, guns and grenades, the military said.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said in a statement that five Western service members had been wounded, but did not characterize the seriousness of their injuries. Most of the troops at Bagram are Americans.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, claimed that 20 suicide attackers took part, but the insurgents often make highly exaggerated statements about the scope of an attack.
The assault came 24 hours after a suicide bomber struck a Western military convoy in Kabul, killing five U.S. service members and a Canadian colonel. The Taliban claimed responsibility.
American officials downplayed the significance of Wednesday’s strike on Bagram, which came a week after the Taliban announced a new spring offensive.
“We’re always prepared to deal with attacks on our base,” said Lt. Col. Clarence Counts, a military spokesman.
The insurgents sometimes seek to enhance their prestige by mounting strikes against a far more powerful Western force or target, even if there is little hope of success.