The suicide bomber in the Bagram Airfield attack that killed four and injured 16 troops during a Veteran's Day run on Saturday likely had help from Taliban fighters working inside of one of the United States most fortified bases in the war-torn country, according to several sources that spoke with Circa.
U.S. military and counterterrorism officials are concerned that there may be more insider attacks in the near future and are scrambling to investigate how the suicide vest made it onto the secured base, sources said.
10,000 U.S. troops
The Pentagon announced the names of the two soldiers killed in Saturday's attack: Army Sgt. John W. Perry, 30, of Stockton, California and Pfc. Tyler R. Iubelt, 20, of Tamaroa, Illinois.
Two contractors were also killed but their names have not yet been released. All four were stationed at Bagram Airfield, part of a nearly 10,000 U.S. troops still in Afghanistan.
Bagram is the biggest coalition base, and before the bombing was considered the most secure.
Bomber 'knew what was going on'
According to a U.S. contractor who spoke to Circa on background, the suicide bomber had made it through the extremely stringent security protocol at the air base.
The suicide bomber "walked up to the race and detonated, made it through security so it was all inside threat, also knew the veterans day race was going to be on."
Both Taliban and al-Qaeda have planned kidnappings of foreigners. The U.S. Embassy on Sunday temporarily closed most of its services, stating that the "consular section will only provide emergency consular services for U.S. citizens."
'Serious threat of violence'
"The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens of the serious threat of violence, kidnapping, and hostage taking in Afghanistan," the statement said. "Additionally, the U.S. Embassy continues to receive reports of militants planning unspecified attacks in Kabul City and elsewhere in Afghanistan against locations and individuals with potential American connections, including Afghan and U.S. government facilities, foreign embassies, foreign guest houses, restaurants, hotels, airports, civilian institutes, and educational centers."
State Department condemns attacks
The spate of increased attacks over the past year is alarming to U.S. officials already concerned by an emboldened Taliban plus a resurgence of al-Qaeda in the region.
The recent onslaught of attacks over the past several months is being described by U.S. contractors, Afghan troops and intelligence officials as a "pre-winter offensive" against U.S. and Afghan security forces before bitter cold weather arrives.
It's very difficult here and we expect attacks to increase. There are still many challenges.
Workers always inspected
Waheed Sediqqi, spokesman for the Parwan provincial governor, told reporters in Afghanistan that the bomber entered the heavily protected site and had been standing in a line with Afghan workers when he detonated the suicide vest.
Afghan workers coming into the base are routinely inspected for explosive vests or any other weapons before entering the secured compound.
Carter 'deeply saddened'
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he was “deeply saddened” and expressed his condolences to the families of those killed and wounded.
“Force protection is always a top priority for us in Afghanistan, and we will investigate this tragedy.”
“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."
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