Suicide Bombing On Afghan Military Base Kills Nine

"KABUL — A suicide bomber wearing an Afghan Army uniform blew himself up yesterday inside a military base in eastern Afghanistan, killing five NATO soldiers, four Afghan soldiers, and an interpreter, officials said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility and said the bomber was a sleeper agent who joined the army a month ago. US Master Sergeant Jason Haag, a NATO spokesman, said the attack took place during a meeting on the Afghan Army base, which also houses NATO trainers.

The bomber detonated his explosives at about 7:30 a.m., as many workers began their morning shifts at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Laghman Province.

Four Afghan soldiers and three interpreters were wounded.

Attacks by insurgents who donned uniforms to infiltrate bases have appeared to increase over the past 12 months as NATO and Afghan forces work more closely together. The international coalition is stepping up the training of Afghan soldiers and policemen so they can take the lead in securing their nation by the end of 2014.

The Afghans added more than 70,000 police and soldiers last year, and there are plans to increase the force to 305,000 by the end of the year.

Yesterday’s attack was the deadliest sleeper agent assault since November, when an Afghan border police officer shot six US soldiers to death at a base in the eastern province of Faryab.

Afghan security forces are supposed to be vetted by past employers or even village elders, but in a country where unemployment is about 35 percent, the literacy rate is about 28 percent, and computerized record-keeping is a novelty, background checks are often rudimentary."