Kabul: A group of would-be suicide bombers in Afghan army uniforms tried to storm an airport in eastern Afghanistan early Saturday but were repelled before they could enter, officials said.
The militants attacked the Afghan army checkpoint outside the Jalalabad airport in Nangarhar province shortly after dawn, sparking a gunbattle that lasted at least two hours with NATO helicopters firing from overhead, said Sgt. Abdullah Hamdard, a national army commander at the site.
There appeared to have been seven attackers -- five who were killed in the fighting and another two who fled into nearby villages, he said.
NATO forces said in a statement that the attack targeted a NATO base that is connected to the airport. The base received fire but initial reports said no foreign or Afghan forces were killed, the international military coalition said.
NATO said it had reports of eight insurgents killed in the fighting, one of whom was wearing a suicide vest. Hamdard said all those who had been killed had been wearing explosive vests, but none of them had a chance to detonate them.
An Associated Press photographer at the scene saw three dead bodies laid out, all wearing Afghan army uniforms. An AK-47 assault rifle, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and a grenade were laid out nearby.
Hamdard said Afghan forces were pursuing those who had fled and the situation was still uncertain because the remaining attackers could still detonate their suicide vests.
A spokesman for the Nangarhar government, Ahmad Zia Abdulzai confirmed the attack and some militant casualties but did not provide other details.
Story first published:
November 13, 2010 10:20 IST