Insurgents infiltrate main strategic base in southwestern Afghanistan
At least one of two Marines killed when insurgents breached the main strategic base in southwestern Afghanistan Friday night hailed from a Yuma squadron that also lost at least two Harrier jets in the Camp Bastion attack, Marine sources confirmed.
The only Marine Harrier squadron serving in Afghanistan is the Arizona-based Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211, nicknamed “the Avengers.” The squadron is part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered in San Diego at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
After deploying to Afghanistan in April, the Yuma squadron relocated its fleet of AV-8B Harrier jump jets from Kandahar Airfield to Camp Bastion this summer, because of the drawdown and consolidation of Marine forces. Lt. Col. Chris “Otis” Raible, commanding officer of the squadron, flew the first jet to the base in Helmand province on July 1.
Airwing personnel referred questions about the attack to Marine and NATO personnel in Afghanistan. Lt. Col. Stewart Upton, spokesman for 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) and the international coalition in southwestern Afghanistan, declined to release details about the casualties. The Defense Department has not announced the names of the dead, pending notification of family.
Several other coalition personnel were wounded in the attack just before midnight when close to 20 insurgents infiltrated the base and assaulted the Bastion flight line with small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and suicide vests, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan reported Saturday.
Other than air wing personnel, most U.S. Marines are located on the Camp Leatherneck side of the massive base that has housed upwards of 28,000 during the peak of the war campaign.
ISAF personnel fired on the attackers and killed all but one, who was wounded and is being held in a medical facility. The base was secured early Saturday morning, military officials said.
Britain’s Prince Harry, who had deployed to Camp Bastion recently for a tour as an Apache attack helicopter pilot, was unharmed. The Taliban had vowed to kill him soon after the prince’s second deployment to Afghanistan was announced.
Five aircraft were destroyed and three more damaged during the assault, coalition officials said. The Taliban claimed that both jets and helicopters were destroyed.
“Despite the damage, there will be no impact to ground or air operations from Camp Bastion,” ISAF public affairs staff announced.
The Taliban issued a statement taking credit for the assault, saying it was part of a “revenge campaign" for a video clip aired on YouTube that ridiculed the Prophet Muhammad. "Plans are in place for further retaliation throughout the country," the statement added.
An investigation into the deadly security breach is ongoing, ISAF said.
Tags: Afghanistan, occupation, by, US, NATO, Taliban, Pakistan, terrorist, Punjabi, ISI, Iran, Intel,
Location: Afghanistan (load item map)
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