Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wire Update: 8 Americans 5 Canadians Dead in Afghan Attacks, CIA Believed Among Those Killed

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 31, 2009 -- Newswire services this morning reported that a suicide bomber at a base in Afghanistan's volatile east killed eight American civilians, U.S. officials said, the worst loss of life for Americans in the country since October. Four Canadian soldiers and a journalist were killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan's south, NATO said.

The Associated Press reported that U.S. officials in Washington said the suicide attacker detonated explosives Wednesday at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost province near the Afghan border with Pakistan, killing eight American civilians. A congressional official said CIA employees were believed to be among the dead.
An attacker wearing a suicide vest caused the explosion, according to a senior U.S. official in Washington. Another senior U.S. official in Washington said there were conflicting reports on the number of casualties, but that others were injured in the attack.

A senior State Department official said all of the victims were civilians. A former senior CIA officer who was stationed at the base said a combination of agency officers and contractors operated out of the remote outpost with the military and other agencies. He said contractors also might be among those who died.

The CIA has not commented or confirmed any deaths.

All the officials in Washington spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.

[. . .]

In Kabul, a spokesman for the international coalition force in Kabul said no U.S. or NATO troops were killed in the afternoon explosion. The attack was the bloodiest day for Americans since eight soldiers were killed in an insurgent attack on a base in eastern Afghanistan on Oct. 3.

In the south, NATO said that the four Canadian troops and a reporter embedded with their unit died when their armored vehicle hit a bomb while on an afternoon patrol south of Kandahar city. It's the third deadliest day for Canadians in Afghanistan since the war began.

Michelle Lang, a 34-year-old health reporter with the Calgary Herald, was the first Canadian journalist to die in Afghanistan. Lang arrived in Afghanistan just two weeks ago and on Wednesday she made her first trip beyond the safe confines of Canada's base on Kandahar Airfield.
Separately on Wednesday, AP noted that NATO questioned Afghan reports that international troops killed 10 civilians, including schoolchildren, in a weekend attack that prompted hundreds of angry Afghan protesters to burn an effigy of U.S. President Barack Obama and chant "death" to America.

AP said that several hundred Afghans demonstrated in the capital of Kabul and in the eastern city of Jalalabad where the likeness of Obama, adorned with a small American flag, burned on a pole held above demonstrators.

(Report from newswire sources.)

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