Taliban insurgents launched a coordinated assault on a coalition air base in eastern Afghanistan early on Sunday in an operation that highlights the challenges the country continues to face even as coalition forces are preparing to scale back operations in advance of the combat troop withdrawal in 2014. The Taliban fighters, who were disguised in coalition military uniforms, detonated three car bombs and engaged in a two-hour gun battle that killed four Afghan guards, at least four civilians, and nine insurgents, reports the New York Times. Three foreign troops were wounded, according to the Washington Post.
The Taliban fighters tried to enter the air base, known as Forward Operating Base Fenty, but were pushed back. "They didn't get inside," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Paul Haverstick, a spokesman for the coalition's Regional Command-East, reports the Wall Street Journal. "It was more shock and awe than anything successful." The Taliban has launched several attacks against coalition bases this year and this particular base had previously come under a frontal assault in February, killing nine Afghans. The last major attack on a coalition base came in September, when Taliban fighters descended on a large base in Helmand province and killed two Marines and destroyed eight fighter jets, notes the New York Times.