Taliban jihadists have killed two more U.S. Army soldiers this month and two American contractors in an attack that has been described as unprecedented given that it occurred inside the heavily fortified Bagram Airfield in northern Afghanistan, America’s largest military facility in the country.
Although jihadists have targeted Bagram in the past, Saturday’s attack marks the first time a suicide bomber made it inside.
The Pentagon has identified the two U.S. soldiers as Army Sgt. John W. Perry, 30, of Stockton, CA, and Pfc. Tyler R. Iubelt, 20, of Tamaroa, IL, adding that they were killed by an improvised explosive device (IED).
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, in a statement, revealed that 16 other American service members and a Polish soldier were also wounded in the attack.
“I want to express my sincere condolences to the families of the fallen, and I want to reassure the loved ones of those injured that they are getting the best possible care,” said Carter. “Force protection is always a top priority for us in Afghanistan, and we will investigate this tragedy to determine any steps we can take to improve it. For those who carried out this attack, my message is simple. We will not be deterred in our mission to protect our homeland and help Afghanistan secure its own future.”
Breitbart News has learned that the U.S. military is only allowed to shoot at Taliban terrorists in self-defense or when they are assisting members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) during combat. American forces lack the authority to offensively attack jihadists.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s suicide bombing, calling it a “strong attack” on Bagram Airfield, named after the Parwan province district that houses it.
In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid noted that the suicide bomber had targeted “a sports ground where more than 100 military officers, important people and soldiers were busy exercising,” adding that the terrorist group had been planning the attack for four months.
An unnamed NATO coalition official told CNN that the terrorist detonated the suicide bomb vest on a sidewalk near where people were preparing for a run.
District Governor Haji Abdul Shokor Qudosi told BBC that the assailant has been identified as Qari Enayatullah, “a former Taliban member working there” who “joined the peace process in 2008.”
“It is not known what job he did at Bagram or how long he had been there,” notes the British news outlet. “He was among Afghan [laborers] reporting for duty when he detonated his vest injuring 17 other people.”
The administration of President Barack Obama spent $55 million on a failed Afghan-led program to reintegrate low-level jihadists and their commanders into Afghan civil society that has been shut down.
Armed violence and insecurity actually increased in Afghanistan under the program according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a U.S. watchdog agency.
It is unclear if the deadly incident is an insider, or “green on blue,” attack, which involves members of the U.S.-trained and funded ANDSF turning their weapons on their American counterparts. The ANDSF includes police and military units.
Prior to Saturday, “green on blue” attacks had killed more Americans troops than the resilient Taliban.
The recent U.S. military casualties bring the total fatalities during the more than 15-year-old war to 2,246 and total reported injuries to at least 20,197, according to a Breitbart News tally gleaned from Pentagon data.
Meanwhile, a Breitbart News analysis of a SIGAR count reveals that with the new civilian casualties, 14 American civilians or contractors have been killed and nine others wounded during the war.
The majority of military casualties have taken place during President Barack Obama’s tenure. Obama escalated the war soon after taking office in 2009.
The Taliban has urged President-Elect Donald Trump (R) to withdraw from Afghanistan, noting that it is winning the war.
Saturday’s attack comes a day after Taliban terrorists stormed the German consulate in the northern capital of Balkh province, Mazar-e Sharif, killing at least six and wounding more than 120.
The Washington Post (WaPo) reports:
Since Bagram was opened for U.S. troops and aircraft in late 2001, there has never been a suicide bombing within the base, and it is unclear how the attacker or the explosive device could have entered the facility
Located north of Kabul, the sprawling Bagram air base houses thousands of U.S. and coalition and civilian personnel. As one of the main military hubs in Afghanistan, Bagram is the largest U.S. base in the country. It is unclear how a suicide bomber or vest could have entered the facility.