Harriers destroyed in Camp Bastion attack that left two US marines dead

Insurgents in US Army uniforms caused tens of millions of dollars' worth of damage during assault on Camp Bastion that killed 2 marines

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 September, 2012, 5:07am


Insurgents who attacked a British airfield where Prince Harry is stationed, killing two US marines, wore US Army uniforms and destroyed six Harrier fighter jets.

Nato yesterday detailed unprecedented damage from the attack on Camp Bastion, one of its largest bases in Afghanistan.

In another attack on foreign forces, an Afghan police officer turned his gun on Nato troops at a checkpoint in southern Afghanistan before dawn yesterday, killing four US service members.

Meanwhile, Afghan officials said air strikes by Nato planes killed eight women and girls in a remote part of the country.

In Friday's attack at Camp Bastion, in Helmand province, two US marines were killed and several others wounded when at least 15 attackers dressed in US Army uniforms, and armed with guns, rockets and suicide vests, stormed the airfield.

Operating in three teams, they succeed in breaching the perimeter of the heavily fortified base. All but one of the attackers were killed, with the surviving fighter taken into custody by coalition forces.

The material losses were huge. Six US AV-8B Harrier fighter jets were destroyed and two significantly damaged, costing tens of millions of dollars. Three coalition refuelling stations were also destroyed and six aircraft hangars were damaged.

The militia claimed the assault was to avenge an American-made film deemed insulting to Islam that has sparked deadly riots across the Middle East and North Africa.

Prince Harry was never in danger, officials said.

Although the Taliban have vowed to kill the prince, its spokesmen said the attack was to avenge the insult to the Prophet Mohammed. "Prince Harry is there, and if we'd caught him, we would have killed him, but this attack was solidly in retaliation to the film," Yousuf Ahmadi reiterated yesterday.

The shooting that killed four American soldiers took place in Zabul province yesterday.

US Army Major Adam Wojack said it was difficult to piece together what happened, partly because all six Nato troops who scrambled to the attack on the police checkpoint were shot.

Yesterday's deaths took to 51 the number of Western soldiers killed by Afghan colleagues since the start of the year, in a growing trend that jeopardises Nato plans to train local forces to take over when it leaves in 2014.

Two British soldiers were killed in similar circumstances on Saturday in Helmand. Britain's defence ministry said they were shot by a man wearing the uniform of the Afghan Local Police at a checkpoint.

Meanwhile, villagers from a remote part of Laghman province's Alingar district drove the bodies of the eight women and girls to the provincial capital, claiming they were killed by Nato aircraft while they were out gathering firewood before dawn.

Seven injured females were also taken to hospitals in the area for treatment, some of them as young as 10 years old, according to provincial health director Latif Qayumi.

Nato forces initially said about 45 insurgents and no civilians were killed in the attack in Laghman, but spokesman Jamie Graybeal stressed later that they took the charge of civilian deaths seriously and were investigating the allegations.

Additional reporting by Reuters, Associated Press