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Taliban Assault On Key U.S. Base In Afghanistan Kills Two, Wounds Dozens

Soldiers patrol near a mosque next to Bagram that was damaged by the attack on December 11.
Soldiers patrol near a mosque next to Bagram that was damaged by the attack on December 11.

KABUL -- Taliban militants have attacked a medical facility near the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan, officials say, killing at least two Afghan civilians and wounding more than 70 other people, including five Georgian soldiers.

The December 11 attack, which included at least one suicide car bombing, comes as the United States last week resumed talks with the Taliban -- three months after President Donald Trump abruptly halted negotiations to end the 18-year war.

"A 30-minute clash also happened between the attackers, who obviously wanted to enter [Bagram Airfield], and foreign forces," said Wahida Shahkar, a spokeswoman for the governor of Parwan Province, where the base is located.

A spokesman for NATO's Resolute Support mission later said that Taliban fighters who barricaded themselves inside the medical facility building after an "unsuccessful attempt to breach" Bagram Airfield were killed in a series of air strikes.

The facility, located outside the air base located some 50 kilometers north of Kabul, was "under renovation to provide increased medical care for local Afghans," the spokesman said.

He also said that "some Coalition service members were evaluated for minor injuries following the initial attack, but were later released."

The Georgian Defense Ministry confirmed that five of its soldiers were slightly injured.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes as U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad reportedly met with Taliban officials on December 7 in Qatar, the scene of previous negotiations abruptly called off three months ago by Trump.

The restart follows Trump's surprise Thanksgiving visit to see U.S. troops in Afghanistan on November 28, when he voiced hope that "the Taliban wants to make a deal and we are meeting with them."

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the latest attack "in the strongest possible terms," adding: "This is precisely the kind of activity that we're working to reduce."

"The people of Afghanistan deserve an end to these senseless acts of violence," he told reporters.

With reporting by AP, dpa, Reuters, and AFP
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