KABUL – An early morning rocket attack on the largest U.S. military hub in Afghanistan killed one person Monday, NATO said. In the east, meanwhile, Afghan authorities thwarted three would-be homicide bombers from attacking a security post.
The attack targeted the sprawling Bagram Air Field, north of the capital of Kabul. A NATO spokesman would not say whether the victim was a service member or a civilian.
Abdullah Adil, the police chief in the Bagram district of Parwan province, said one rocket was fired onto the grounds of the base at about 4 a.m. A Taliban spokesman told The Associated Press that two rockets were fired on the base.
Bagram is home to some 24,000 military personnel and civilian contractors supporting the war against the Taliban insurgency. While well protected and located in a relatively quiet area, the more than 5,000-acre (2,000-hectare) base is still susceptible to rocket and mortar attacks. Last year, insurgents launched more than a dozen attacks on Bagram, killing at least four people.
The main air field is being expanded to accommodate some of the 30,000 new American troops that President Barack Obama has ordered to Afghanistan to try to turn the tide of the war.
NATO and Afghan forces last month launched the largest combined offensive against the Taliban since the hard-line Islamists were driven from power in 2001. The push secured the one-time Taliban stronghold and opium-producing center of Marjah in the southern province of Helmand.
The next major offensive is planned for later this year in neighboring Kandahar province, where the insurgents retain a strong presence. On Saturday, the Taliban detonated several bombs in Kandahar city, killing 35 people in what the militants said was a "warning" that they are ready to fight.
Mourners gathered Monday at a Kandahar mosque for memorial services for the bombing victims, gathering around photos of the dead and chanting prayers. Among the dead were 10 people attending a wedding being held in a hall near a police station.
In eastern Afghanistan, police said Afghan security forces killed three suicide bombers Monday morning in Paktika province before they could launch an attack on security posts in Barmal district.
Separately in Ghazni province, Afghan police say three civilians were killed and three others were wounded when their vehicle hit a roadside mine while they were moving household goods.
Also, a NATO service member was also killed in a traffic accident in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, the military alliance said.
The U.S. military also confirmed Monday that an unmanned Predator drone aircraft crashed in southern Afghanistan. The crash late Sunday night was not caused by enemy fire, and the site was quickly secured, an Air Force release said. The Air Force initially said the drone crashed on takeoff but later revised its statement to say it went down later in its mission.
Unmanned drones have become crucial tools for the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq, both for their reconnaissance value and their ability to fire missiles at enemy positions. The CIA runs a separate covert program that targets al-Qaida and Taliban leaders across the border in Pakistan.