At least 25 insurgents killed in attack on NATO camp in eastern Afghanistan, officials say

By Amir Shah, AP
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

25 militants killed in attack on Afghan-NATO camp

KABUL, Afghanistan — Insurgents attacked a NATO and Afghan army outpost in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border and at least 25 of the militants were killed in the resulting skirmish, officials said Wednesday.

Troops at the combat outpost in Spera district of Khost province returned fire with mortars late Tuesday, killing 25 to 30 insurgents, NATO said in a statement. Initial reports found there were no civilian casualties, it said.

Gen. Raz Mohmmad Horya Khil, a senior commander of the Afghan National Army in the province, said 29 insurgents were killed. There were no casualties among NATO or Afghan troops, he said.

Horya Khil said the attack, coming from the Pakistan side of the border, was directed at the Mir Safar joint-NATO and Afghan army camp and lasted for more than two hours. Helicopters were called in to provide support.

Bodies and weapons on the field were being recovered, he said.

On Wednesday, a NATO service member was killed by a homemade bomb in southern Afghanistan.

NATO provided no further details, but the Danish military announced in Copenhagen that the bomb blast killed a Danish soldier and seriously injured another. The two members of the Royal Life Guards were on foot patrol in Helmand province when the bomb went off, it said.

Denmark has lost more than 30 soldiers in Afghanistan since it joined the coalition in 2002.

The Scandinavian country has more than 700 troops serving in the NATO-led force. Most are based in Helmand province.

The death followed the crash of a NATO helicopter in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday that killed nine NATO troops in the worst coalition helicopter crash in Afghanistan in four years.

This year has already become the deadliest of the Afghan war for international troops, surpassing last year’s total of 504 deaths.

The coalition would not disclose the helicopter’s mission, and the cause of the crash was not immediately clear. NATO said there were no reports of enemy fire at the time in the Daychopan district of Zabul province, where the crash took place.

However, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi told The Associated Press by telephone that insurgents shot down the helicopter. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims and sometimes take credit for accidents.

At least six Americans were among the dead, according to military officials and family members.

Fort Campbell spokesman Rick Rzepka said that five of the soldiers were assigned to the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade and their families have been notified. Their identities have not been released.

Family members say a sixth victim, a 30-year-old Navy man, was among those killed in the crash. The nationalities of the other three victims was not immediately clear.

A father of a Clark County, Washington, soldier said his son was among the victims of the crash. Rod McClellan told The Columbian newspaper that 26-year-old Army Chief Warrant Officer Jonah McClellan was among the dead. The younger McClellan was a Blackhawk helicopter pilot with the 101st Airborne; it was unclear if he was flying the helicopter that crashed.

The Navy man’s sister, Kelly Lockman, said Wednesday that her brother, David Blake McLendon, was another servicemember killed in the crash. She said he was a senior chief in Naval Special Warfare, stationed in Little Creek, Virginia. She says he trained with a Navy SEAL team but was not serving as a SEAL.

Associated Press Writers Kristin M. Hall in Nashville, Tennessee and Kathy McCarthy in Seattle, Washington contributed to this report.

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