General Martin Dempsey safe; C-17 damaged

Militants fired rockets into an American base in Afghanistan and damaged the parked plane of the visiting Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S.-led military coalition on Tuesday. The General was safe in his quarters at the time but had to take another aircraft out of the country.

The rocket strike was yet another propaganda coup for the Taliban after it claimed to have shot down a U.S. helicopter last week.

It also followed a string of disturbing killings of U.S. military trainers by their Afghan partners or militants dressed in Afghan uniform. Such attacks killed 10 Americans in the last two weeks alone.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place late on Monday night at the Bagram Air Field outside Kabul, saying the plane was targeted by “using exact information” about where it would be.

Two maintenance workers were slightly injured by shrapnel from the two rockets fired into, coalition spokesman Jamie Graybeal said. General Dempsey “was nowhere near” the plane when the rockets hit near where it was parked, the spokesman added.

Bagram is a sprawling complex — about an hour’s drive north of Kabul — that usually serves as the first point of entrance for U.S. officials visiting the country. It is the hub for military operations in the east of the country and the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan. General Dempsey was in Afghanistan to discuss the state of the war after a particularly deadly few weeks for Americans in the more than 10-year-old war as international forces begin drawing down.

Among the topics was the escalating number of “insider attacks” in which Afghan police or soldiers or militants dressed in Afghan uniform turn their guns on coalition military trainers.

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