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Taliban fighters killed in attack on Kandahar airfield

A brazen daylight attack on Kandahar Airfield resulted in the deaths of between eight and 10 Taliban fighters Tuesday and military officials called the attempt amateurish and desperate.

The one-hour assault occurred minutes after a pair of rockets were fired toward the sprawling base south of Kandahar city, which is the largest NATO installation in southern Afghanistan.

It involved one individual wearing a suicide vest, who blew himself up near the perimeter of the airfield creating a small hole in the chain link fence.

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"The Taliban conducted what was pretty much a desperate attack against KAF - not very successful in the least," explained Maj. Josh Major, a Canadian who is the commander of current operations at Task Force Kandahar. "They had 10 personnel attacking a base of about 20,000."

Majo. Major said Canadian soldiers responded to the attack.

"We actually had Canadian soldiers right near the site as they attempted to gain access and they immediately responded, neutralizing the enemy and basically ensured their attack was completely unsuccessful. It was not very well planned or coordinated at all. Basically all they succeeded in doing was really destroying about a $70 section of fence."

The insurgents were cut down by 25 mm cannon fire as they attempted to squeeze through the small hole in the fence.

Maj. Major said it was almost wrong to term the assault an attack at all calling it more of an annoyance at a time when Canadian troops are battling against the Taliban in the Panjwaii district, west of Kandahar city.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Air Commodore Gordon Moulds, the commander of Kandahar Airfield, believed the rocket attacks were initially the signal for the ground attack to begin. He said a NATO soldier was wounded by shrapnel from one of the rockets.

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"I assume what they were trying to do is get onto base to carry out attacks and unfortunately for them they were engaged early and failed," Commodore Moulds said.

"One of their aims is to get some publicity for themselves but it's another failed attempt to attack us," he said. "It's a very large base. There seems to be no logic."

"It was a very amateur attack that failed."

Maj. Major said it is generous to term it an an amateur attack.

"Amateur would actually have you believe they have some knowledge. Here I would classify it as completely ineffective and amateur is a compliment."

It's the second ground attack on Kandahar Airfield in three months.

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In May a nighttime attack injured civilians and military personnel.

At least five rockets and mortars were fired at the sprawling airbase in the four hour attack but the insurgents failed to gain entry.

Rocket attacks on the airfield are not unusual, however ground attacks have been very rare.

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