Attackers wore U.S. Army uniforms during deadly base raid
(CNN) — Afghan insurgents who staged a daring, well-planned raid on the military camp where Britain’s Prince Harry is based were wearing U.S. Army uniforms, NATO said.
Six jets were destroyed and two U.S. Marines were killed in the brazen weekend attack.
The use of U.S. military uniforms may be a new insurgent tactic. ISAF could not immediately provide CNN with previous examples.
Well-trained, well-rehearsed fighters carried out the sustained assault at Camp Bastion in Helmand province, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said.
About 15 insurgents organized into three teams penetrated the base’s perimeter fence and did considerable damage, destroying six refueling stations and damaging six aircraft hangars.
The attackers toted automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and suicide vests.
They destroyed six AV-8B Harrier jets and damaged two others before the attack ended, the coalition said.
Fourteen of the fighters were killed and one was wounded and captured, ISAF said.
Eight coalition military personnel and one civilian contractor were also wounded.
It is too soon to say whether the attackers had “inside knowledge,” ISAF spokesman James Graybeal said.
ISAF would not say how the attackers got the uniforms, but CNN staff who have spent time in Afghanistan say they are for sale in markets there.
Prince Harry is an Apache helicopter pilot based at Camp Bastion, but the British Ministry of Defence categorically rejected reports in Sunday’s British press that he was just a few hundred yards away from the gun battle.
Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and third in line to the British throne, “was in no way in any danger” during the latest attack, ISAF spokesman Maj. Martin Crighton said earlier.
On Saturday, ISAF said the camp is secure and the strike would not “impact” air and ground operations.
Camp Leatherneck, the U.S. side of the base, was not affected by the attack, Maj. Adam N. Wojack, an ISAF spokesman, told CNN.
The joint base is located in a remote desert region of Helmand, the southern province in the Taliban heartland.
The Taliban said it carried out the strike, calling it a response to the anti-Islam film stoking anger across Muslim-majority countries. Yet Crighton said there had no organized demonstrations outside its gates before the assault.
Afghanistan has seen only relatively small and peaceful demonstrations against in the film during a week in which there were protests in more than a dozen countries.
Separately, attackers dressed as Afghan police killed four coalition troops early Sunday in southern Afghanistan, ISAF spokesman Graybeal said.
He didn’t offer more details, beyond saying that the troops died “following an insider attack involving Afghan police.”
He would not say where the troops were from or where they were killed.
The assault is the latest in a series of incidents in which members of Afghan security forces have been suspected of turning their weapons on coalition or Afghan soldiers, known as green-on-blue attacks.
More than 50 coalition troops have been killed in such attacks this year.
Sunday’s killings came only a day after the British Ministry of Defence announced that two troops had been killed in Helmand province’s Nahr-e Saraj district.
In that attack, a man wearing an Afghan police uniform fatally shot two members of the 3rd Battalion at a checkpoint, according to Maj. Laurence Roche, a spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said in a statement released by the ministry.
The killing occurred the same day that another British soldier died in in a separate incident in Nahr-e Saraj, according to the ministry. He was killed when his vehicle struck a bomb.
CNN’s Chelsea J. Carter, Adam S. Levine, Jessica King, and Greg Botelho contributed to this report.
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