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Terrorism & Security

Deadly U.S. Army outpost assault in Afghanistan underscores growing threat

The attack focuses international pressure on neighboring Pakistan, where many of the militants are said to be based.

By Julien Spencer / July 14, 2008

The US Army in Afghanistan suffered one of its biggest single losses of life Sunday when nine soldiers were killed during a militant attack on an Army outpost in the northeast of the country – a further sign of the growing resurgence of Taliban-linked forces. The attack will increase pressure on neighboring Pakistan, where many of the militants are allegedly based, at a time when military chiefs are increasingly turning the focus away from Iraq and toward Afghanistan.

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According to the Guardian, the US soldiers were killed as their base in Kunar Province came under attack.

The fighting was set off after a multi-pronged militant assault on a small, remote US base. Militants fired machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars from homes and a mosque in the village of Wanat, in Kunar, a mountainous region that borders Pakistan, Nato's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said.

Al Jazeera provided more information on the engagement, saying that the US forces held their ground despite the attack.

The several hours of fighting also left 15 US soldiers and four Afghan colleagues wounded, NATO said.
It added that the attackers – whom it did not identify - were repulsed from the outpost and were believed to have suffered heavy casualties.
Captain Mike Finney, a spokesperson for the Isaf, told Al Jazeera that while it was a very bad day for the force in terms of numbers killed, the "insurgents haven't gained any ground".
He said the attackers had failed in their goal to overrun the outpost which the isaf soldiers had only recently occupied.
An Afghan official said international aircraft had bombed the area during the fighting and there may also have been civilian casualties.

The deaths come at a time when attention is increasingly turning to the fight in Afghanistan and the resurgent Taliban, reports The New York Times.

One factor in the consideration is the pressing need for additional American troops in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and other fighters have intensified their insurgency and inflicted a growing number of casualties on Afghans and American-led forces there.
More American and allied troops died in Afghanistan than in Iraq in May and June, a trend that has continued this month.

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