A suicide bombing killed six American troops and injured two others near Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan on Monday.
A driver rammed a motorcycle packed with explosives into a joint NATO-Afghan patrol in what was the deadliest attack on international forces since August, the Associated Press reports. A third person was also wounded in the explosion.
The White House said in a statement that the Taliban was responsible:
“We express our deepest condolences to the families of the six U.S. service members killed and to all of those injured in today’s Taliban attack near Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and their loved ones. The United States condemns this cowardly attack on members of the U.S. and Afghan forces, and we remain committed to supporting the Afghan people and their government. We will continue to work together to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan, just as we will not relent in our mission to counter the threat of terrorism that plagues the region.”
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter issued the following statement:
“It is with deep regret that I learned today that six U.S. service members died in Afghanistan Monday. We are still learning all of the details, but two other service members and a U.S. contractor were also injured. They died after a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack on their patrol outside Bagram Air Base. It serves as a painful reminder of the dangers our troops face every day in Afghanistan.
“As I saw firsthand during my visit to Afghanistan last Friday, our troops are working diligently alongside our Afghan partners to build a brighter future for the Afghan people. Their dedicated efforts will continue despite this tragic event. Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of these brave Americans who died in service to this vital mission, and our thoughts remain with all of our troops serving overseas during this holiday season so that we may have peace and security at home.”
NPR’s Philip Ewing reports that defense officials have not identified the military service branch the troops belonged to.
Bagram, located north of the capital, Kabul, is the major hub for U.S. and international air operations in Afghanistan.
The AP adds:
“The attack happened as Taliban fighters overran a strategic district in southern Helmand province, the scene of some of the deadliest fighting between the Taliban and international combat forces prior to the 2014 withdrawal, adding weight to Pentagon predictions that the insurgency is gaining strength. … The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killings.”