Taliban attack damages US military chief’s aircraft

13KABUL/WASHINGTON: Taliban militants today fired rockets and damaged the special aircraft of the top most US military commander in Afghanistan’s highly secure Bagram air base, but General Martin Dempsey escaped as he was not in the plane.

The rockets uprooted the main door of the C-17 aircraft used by the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, wounding two maintenance officers and also damaging an Apache helicopter gunship parked nearby, the ABC news reported quoting Pentagon officials.

A US military spokesman, Jamie Graybeal, told reporters that the shrapnel from the rockets struck the door of the plane, injuring two workers.

But the rockets posed no threat to the safety of Dempsey or his entourage who were asleep in their quarters at the time of the attack in the early hours of the morning.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, saying Dempsey’s aircraft was “specifically targeted on exact information.”

Dempsey was on a crucial visit to Afghanistan to meet commanders of the NATO forces and Afghan top brass to discuss the recent surge in attacks by Afghan security personnel on their international colleague.

A total of 10 NATO soldiers have lost their lives in attacks billed as “green on blue” in the past two weeks.

A spokesman for the NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said that “Dempsey was nowhere in sight when the attacks took place.”

The American commander later left Kabul in another C-17 plane.

“Indirect fire is not uncommon at Bagram and there is absolutely no indication that the attack was specifically targeting the plane,” the spokesman added. -PTI

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