Monday, June 18, 2012

Blast flattened the dining hall and post exchange at Forward Operating Base Salerno

Attack at US base in Afghanistan worse than initially disclosed
The Washington Post
Published: June 16, 2012

KABUL — A June 1 attack on a U.S. outpost near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border was much worse than originally disclosed by the military as insurgents pounded the base with a truck bomb, killing two Americans and seriously wounding about three dozen troops, officials acknowledged Saturday.

The blast flattened the dining hall and post exchange at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost province, a frequent target of insurgents in the past. Five Afghan civilians were killed and more than 100 other U.S. troops were treated for minor injuries. U.S. officials estimated that the truck was carrying 1,500 pounds of explosives.

U.S. and Afghan military officials said they killed 14 insurgents, many of whom were wearing suicide vests.

The scale of the attack and the extent of the U.S. casualties contrast with the official description presented by coalition forces on the day of the assault. In a clipped, one-paragraph news release on June 1, the military said U.S. and Afghan forces “successfully repelled the attack and secured the base.”

The statement did not report any casualties, nor that there was a truck bomb.

“It was a very huge explosion,” said Daoud Khan Makeen, head of the provincial council in Khost. He said that houses as far as two miles away were damaged in the blast and that 20 Afghans were wounded, many of them by collapsed buildings.

Although the public was kept in the dark about the details, Obama administration officials seized on the incident afterward as the latest example of how Pakistan is allowing insurgents to use its territory to plan attacks, causing another international row between Washington and Islamabad.
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