Rockets Pound Korean Base in Afghanistan

      February 10, 2011 09:33

      The base of a Korean military unit in Charikar, Afghanistan was attacked by rocket-propelled grenades apparently fired by Afghan insurgents at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, but nobody was hurt. The base was to officially open next Monday.

      The attack on the Provincial Reconstruction Team came about seven hours after Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin secretly visited the base, prompting speculation that his movements had been watched.

      A Foreign Ministry official on Wednesday said five rounds of rocket-propelled grenades were fired from outside the base. Three of them landed and exploded in a vacant lot between the headquarters in the center of the base and a mess hall and two others landed outside.

      "Local police arrived at our request," he added. "The situation came to an end in 20 minutes. We're carrying out an on-the-spot investigation jointly with Afghan police based on CCTV tapes."

      Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin (right) visits the base of a Korean military unit in Charikar, Afghanistan on Tuesday morning, seven hours before a rocket attack on the base. /Courtesy of the Defense Ministry

      At the time of the attack, a total of 369 personnel -- 277 soldiers, 57 civilians, and 35 police officers -- were working at the Charikar base. Kim Un-yong, a senior officer at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the rockets seem to have been fired from a distance 800 m to 1 km.

      Around 10:30 a.m. that day, the minister arrived at the Charikar base and spoke with members of the Oshino unit that is tasked with protecting the base.

      Kim then left for the UAE. Some experts suspect that the attack was aimed at disturbing his visit or the opening of the base. The government is considering postponing the scheduled opening.

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