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3 Afghans killed, NATO chopper destroyed in attack on U.S.-run base

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KABUL, Afghanistan -- Insurgents fired on a giant U.S.-run airbase north of the capital, destroying a NATO helicopter and killing three members of the Afghan security forces, the Western military said Tuesday. Two NATO service members were injured.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack at Bagram airbase, which took place late Monday night. Officials were trying to determine if the casualties and damage were caused by rockets or mortar rounds, said Lt. Col. Hagen Messer, a German spokesman for the NATO force.

Last month, indirect fire aimed at Bagram damaged a plane that was being used by the visiting chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey. The general was not aboard at the time, and left the country on another aircraft. At the time, the NATO force called it a lucky shot, saying it did not believe that insurgents had either the intelligence information or the targeting capability to intentionally strike the general’s aircraft.

The strike at Bagram came amid heightened security surrounding the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. On Saturday, a suicide bomber blew himself up near the headquarters of the NATO force, killing six Afghan civilians and injuring about a dozen others. Among the casualties were some of the street children who customarily cluster outside the base to beg for small change and sell chewing gum to passing foreigners.

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