“Well-coordinated attack” kills 2 US Marines, destroys aircrafts at Camp Bastion
Two U.S. Marines were killed and 9 others were wounded late Friday when a group of heavily-armed insurgents launched a “well-coordinated attack” at Camp Bastion in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
NATO officials confirmed that 15 insurgents – dressed in U.S. army uniforms and armed with rocket propelled grenade launchers, suicide vests, and automatic rifles – breached the heavily-fortified airbase around 10 p.m. yesterday and destroyed a number of aircrafts, refueling stations, and hangers.
“The insurgents appeared to be well equipped, trained and rehearsed,” according to a statement released by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Despite the damage, NATO officials said the attack did not impact ground or air operations.
NATO troops killed 14 of the insurgents; one was wounded and taken into custody.
Great Britain’s Prince Harry, deployed as a helicopter pilot, was on base at the time of the attack but was not hurt or in any imminent danger. Although the Taliban has threatened to kidnap or kill Prince Harry, it is not clear whether Camp Bastion was targeted specifically because of the prince’s presence on base.
The Taliban has taken credit for the attack, claiming that the strike was in retaliation of an amateur American-made video that purportedly denigrated Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
“The aim of this attack was revenge against Americans for the anti-Prophet movie,” Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf told Reuters.
The movie, reportedly backed by a group of Coptic Christians in Egypt, has sparked violent anti-American protests in Libya and Egypt, which has since spread to Yemen, Tunisia, and Sudan this week.
The attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya killed 4 Americans: U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and Embassy security personnels Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
Since then, the U.S. has deployed Marine FAST company teams to boost the security of its embassies in Tripoli, Libya and Sanaa, Yemen.
“Right now, we are doing whatever we can to protect Americans who are serving abroad,” said President Barack Obama in his weekly address. “We are in contact with governments around the globe, to strengthen our cooperation, and underscore that every nation has a responsibility to help us protect our people. We have moved forward with an effort to see that justice is done for those we lost, and we will not rest until that work is done.”
NATO casualties: 2 (U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible, 40, of Huntingdon, Pa. and Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell, 27, of Kokomo, Ind.)
Number of NATO personnel wounded: 9 (including 1 civilian contractor)
Number of insurgents killed: 14
Number of insurgents wounded & in custody: 1
Damages to the Camp Bastion Airbase as a result of the insurgent attack:
- Destroyed 6 AV-8B Harrier jets
- Seriously damaged 2 AV-8B Harrier jets
- Destroyed 3 re-fueling stations
- Damaged 6 aircraft hangers
- International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan (ISAF): ISAF provides additional details on Camp Bastion attack
- International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan (ISAF): Insurgent attack on Camp Bastion, Helmand province
- Department of Defense: DOD Identifies Marine Casualties – Sept. 17, 2012
- Reuters.com: Taliban link Afghanistan attack to anti-Islam film
- Al Jazeera English: Taliban take credit for British base attack
- BBC.uk.co: Prince Harry at Camp Bastion during Taliban attack
- WhiteHouse.gov: Weekly Address: Carrying on the Work of Our Fallen Heroes – Sept. 15, 2012
- U.K. Ministry of Defense: Prince Harry arrives in Afghanistan to begin tour of duty in Apache Squadron
- WhatTheFolly.com: State Department identifies the 2 Embassy security personnel killed in Benghazi, Libya
- WhatTheFolly.com: New details emerge on “complex” Benghazi attack; Marines sent to Tripoli
- WhatTheFolly.com: Timeline of the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya
- WhatTheFolly.com: U.S. Ambassador & 3 Americans killed in Libya attack