US aircraft damaged in Afghanistan

Soldiers of the 4th brigade combat team 4th infantry division of the US Army clean a mortar range in Afghanistan. Picture: AFP
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KABUL - Two rockets fired by insurgents have damaged an aircraft used by US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Martin Dempsey at an airbase in Afghanistan, a NATO spokesman said on Tuesday.

The general was not on board at the time.

"He was nowhere near the aircraft. We think it was a lucky shot," Colonel Thomas Collins told Reuters.

The aircraft was only being used temporarily by Dempsey and his staff.

The rockets also damaged a nearby helicopter.

Dempsey, who had been in the country for talks with NATO and Afghan commanders on a string of recent rogue shootings, left the country on another aircraft.

Bagram is occasionally targeted with rockets and mortar shells fired by insurgents from surrounding hills and fields.

Sporadic attacks also occur at NATO's other main airbase in Afghanistan, Kandahar Airfield, in the volatile south, although they rarely cause deaths or major damage.

Before leaving Afghanistan, Dempsey met his Afghan counterpart, General Sher Mohammad Karimi, who raised the issue of insider attacks by rogue forces that have killed 10 American troops in the past two weeks.

"In the past, it's been us pushing on them to make sure they do more," he said on Monday.

"This time, without prompting, when I met General Karimi, he started with a conversation about insider attacks - and, importantly, insider attacks not just against us, but insider attacks against the Afghans, too."