Attack on US Baghram airbase decimates manned NATO helicopter, 3 dead


A U.S. military Chinook helicopter lands at Forward Operating Base in Arghandab district southern Afghanistan on July 29, 2011.


Romeo Gacad

Afghanistan's US Baghram airbase was attacked late Monday in an assault that wiped out a manned NATO helicopter, killing three Afghan soldiers on board, coalition officials said today, according to The New York Times

Other coalition troops on board the aircraft were injured but there were no reported coalition deaths, NATO officials told NYT. The assault has been claimed by the Taliban. 

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The violence comes as security for the sprawling US airbase, the scene of a Koran-burning controversy earlier this year, is transferred to Afghan authorities

The nature of Monday's attack was not immediately clear. International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Hagen Messer told NYT the aircraft was "destroyed by indirect fire,” explaining that it "caught fire after it was hit by indirect fire.” However, Messer also told CNN it wasn't clear if the ammunition used was mortars or rockets. 

Local Afghan officials said the helicopter had been hit by rockets as it was trying to land, said NYT, while Reuters cited ISAF officials as confirming the rocket account.

The airbase is home to the large Baghram prison, which holds some 3,000 high-value detainees, according to Reuters.

Located along a major supply road that leads into Uzbekistan, the base also serves as a key link between the country's northern and southern regions, said NYT