Rockets hit U.S. airbase north of Kabul, killing three Afghan staff

KABUL Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:28am EDT

KABUL (Reuters) - Four rockets have hit the U.S.-run Bagram airfield near the Afghan capital, destroying a helicopter belonging to the NATO-led forces and killing three Afghan personnel inside, a spokesman for the coalition said on Tuesday.

The attack, which took place at around 10 pm local time on Monday, came on the eve of the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Security across the capital, Kabul, was intensified.

Two personnel belonging to NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), who were also in the helicopter, were wounded, the spokesman said.

The Taliban, in a text message to Reuters, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they had fired rockets at the helicopter, which was on a ramp in the airfield.

The attack came a day after the United States handed control of the controversial giant Bagram prison and its 3,000 suspected Taliban inmates to Afghan authorities.

Recent weeks have seen intensified violence across Afghanistan. The attack on Bagram comes days after a young teenager detonated explosives near the heavily barricaded NATO headquarters in Kabul, killing six civilians including children.

That attack followed a suicide bombing of a funeral in eastern Nangarhar province, which killed at least 25.

Despite the presence of hundreds of thousands of Afghan and foreign troops fighting the Taliban-led insurgency, violence is at its worst since the Islamists were toppled by Afghan and U.S. forces in late 2001, five years after they took power.

The United Nations says the Taliban are responsible for 80 percent of civilian casualties in the conflict.

(Reprting by Jessica Donati; Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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