Taliban militants have attacked a United States army base in eastern Afghanistan, sparking a lengthy gun battle with the US-led coalition troops and Afghan security forces in which three militants were killed. US officials said that no Afghan or US soldier died and the insurgents didn’t enter the base. Media reports suggest that attack on Torkham base in Nangarhar province was launched after the militants torched NATO supply trucks on the highway leading to the base. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility of the attack while speaking to BBC.
Though no casualty was reported in the attack, financial cost of the attack is said to be immense. Many NATO supply vehicles on the road to the base were badly burnt by the insurgents. Officials had to close the Jalalabad-Torkham road, a key route for these vehicles, after the attack. ISAF officials said in a statement that it was a botched attempt by the Taliban. The base is home to some of the 66,000 US troops serving in Afghanistan along with troops from other countries. The base is also an important stopping point for NATO vehicles.
A number of discerning observers opine that the Taliban have escalated their attacks against civilians and the US-led coalition troops in Afghanistan in order to assert their authority and presence in the war-ravaged country. They also opine that the Taliban may have been testing the strength of Afghan security forces ahead of the planned withdrawal of US-led coalition troops from the violence-wracked country. The Obama administration plans to pull out international troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year and almost all security matters are being handed over to Afghan security forces. The US believes that the Afghan national army and police are now capable enough to deal with terrorists.
However, skeptics say that the strength of the Afghan national army and police is exposed by the daily terror and suicide attacks in the country. The Obama administration plans to sign a security pact with the Afghan government so that a residual force ranging between 5,000 and 10,000 troops could be kept in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of international troops. The residual force would not take part in military operations against militants across the country; rather, it would facilitate the Afghan national army and police in the operations and would also train them.