The U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan suffered one of its worst days in 2015 on Monday, as six U.S. service members were killed and three more people were wounded when a motorcycle laden with explosives detonated near them in Parwan province in an apparent suicide attack.
A U.S. military official in Afghanistan confirmed that the slain troops were all Americans. The incident occurred north of the capital, Kabul, at about 1:30 p.m. in a province best known for Bagram air base, a sprawling military complex from which U.S. forces fly F-16 fighter jets and other aircraft. While the U.S. military no longer carries out offensive operations in Afghanistan following the end of its formal combat mission, it patrols around the base daily to protect it against the Taliban and other enemy groups.
Three Afghan police officers also were wounded in the blast, an Afghan official said.
“We’re deeply saddened by this loss,” said Brig. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner, the top U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan. Gen. John Campbell, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and the rest of the military coalition said that “our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families and friends of those affected in this tragic incident, especially during this holiday season,” Shoffner added.
In emailed statements and tweets Monday, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on American soldiers near Bagram and said its forces had successfully overtaken the strategic Sangin district of Helmand province in the south.
A statement from the insurgents said a “self-sacrificing attacker” named Zahidullah, riding a motorbike, targeted American soldiers patrolling in Bagram. The statement also said that 19 American “occupiers” were killed and “a huge number” wounded. The Taliban often exaggerates enemy casualty numbers. (The Washington Post)