Marines Killed in Strike on US-British Base
By Chris Lawrence, Barbara Starr and Joe Sterling
(CNN) — Coalition forces in southern Afghanistan beat back a deadly overnight assault on the U.S.-British military complex where British royal Prince Harry is stationed.
Two U.S. Marines and many insurgents died in “sustained” fighting, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said. The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying the strike was in response to the anti-Islam film stoking anger across the Muslim world.
ISAF said the attack started around 10 p.m. when 20 insurgents carrying small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and suicide vests infiltrated the base perimeter.
Coalition members returned fire and killed all but one of the “known insurgents.” That survivor is in ISAF custody and is at a medical facility. But the insurgents claimed the lives of the two Marines and wounded several service members.
ISAF said the attack damaged aircraft and structures, but the camp is secure and the strike won’t “impact” air and ground operations.
The complex includes American-run Camp Leatherneck and the British-run Camp Bastion. The attack happened at the airfield, Maj. Adam N. Wojack, an ISAF spokesman, told CNN.
“Camp Leatherneck is on the opposite side of Camp Bastion, so was not involved in the attack.”
The assault occurred amid anger over the film denigrating the Prophet Mohammed. Angry protests have occurred at American and other Western diplomatic missions across the Muslim world.
But Maj. Martin Crighton, an ISAF spokesman, said there had no organized demonstrations outside its gates before the attack.
A week ago Friday, Prince Harry arrived in Afghanistan for a tour as an Apache helicopter pilot in the British military, Defense Ministry said.
He is deployed at Camp Bastion with the 100-strong 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps.
Harry, the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and third in line to the British throne, is a captain in Britain’s Army Air Corps. The prince “was in no way in any danger” during the latest attack, Crighton said.
Helmand and much of the volatile southern region of the country have been in the Afghan war and is regarded as part of the Taliban’s heartland.
Separately, the British Defense Ministry on Saturday announced the death of one of its soldiers in another incident in Helmand.
The soldier died when the vehicle in which he was traveling in struck a bomb in the province’s Nahr-e Saraj district.
In another incident, a person thought to be a member of the Afghan local police shot and killed two ISAF service members in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, ISAF said.
This is the latest so-called insider or green-on-blue attack in which members of Afghan security forces are suspected of turning their weapons on coalition or Afghan soldiers.
It was not immediately known where the incident occurred and where the slain service members were from.
— CNN’s Jessica King contributed to this report