In brief: Taliban attack U.S.-Afghan base
Kabul, Afghanistan – Taliban suicide bombers assaulted a joint U.S.-Afghan air base in eastern Afghanistan early today, detonating explosives at the gate and sparking a gunbattle that lasted at least two hours with American helicopters firing down at militants before the attackers were defeated.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said they first exploded a car bomb at the entrance of Jalalabad Airfield then stormed into the base. A spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, confirmed that car bombs were used at the gate but said none of the militants were able to enter. The NATO military coalition also described it as a failed attack.
“We can confirm insurgents, including multiple suicide bombers, attacked Jalalabad Airfield this morning. None of the attackers succeeded in breaching the perimeter,” Lt. Col. Hagen Messer, a spokesman for the international military coalition, said in an email.
He said the fighting had ended by mid-morning and that reports showed one member of the Afghan security forces was killed. Several foreign troops were wounded, but Messer did not give any numbers or details.
Hamas leader to visit Gaza Strip
Gaza City, Gaza Strip – The leader of Gaza’s ruling Hamas group will visit the Palestinian territory for the first time, an official said Saturday, a sign of increasing boldness of the Islamic militant movement after it held its own against an Israeli military offensive.
Khaled Mashaal was set to arrive in the Gaza Strip next week by crossing the border from Egypt to mark Hamas’ 25th anniversary and congratulate its leaders and fighters for battling Israel during the recent eight-day offensive, according to a senior Hamas official in Gaza.
Mashaal previously had been prevented from crossing into Gaza by longtime Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. But Mubarak was ousted in February 2011, and the Muslim Brotherhood, which has close ties to Hamas, has risen to power.
Mashaal has led Hamas since 1996, helping to build the Iranian-backed movement into a potent force. The group has been branded a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union.
Until recently, Mashaal was based in Syria but after civil war broke out there relocated to Qatar.
Seven missing after tunnel collapse
Tokyo – At least seven people were feared missing after parts of a tunnel collapsed today on a highway west of Tokyo, trapping vehicles as smoke from a fire inside initially prevented rescuers from approaching.
Video footage from cameras inside the tunnel, after the fire was extinguished, showed firefighters picking their way through cement roof panels that collapsed onto vehicles inside the Sasago Tunnel, about 50 miles outside the city. However, local media reported rescuers had suspended work out of fears of another collapse in the tunnel.
The cause in the collapse of about 330 feet of the tunnel was under investigation.