‘Harry Operations:’ Taliban stage fatal attack on Prince’s base

Britain's Prince Harry examines the interior of an Apache helicopter with a member of his 622 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, part of 16 Air Assault Brigade, at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan (AFP Photo / John Stillwell)
The Taliban has carried out a large-scale attack on the Afghanistan base where Britain's Prince Harry is stationed. The fundamentalist group has previously vowed to kill or kidnap the royal.

Eighteen insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades, suicide vests and assault rifles used the cover of night to reach the edge of Camp Bastion in the country's unstable Helmand province.

All the assailants were killed. Two US Marines were killed as well defending the base, and several more were wounded.

Taliban spokesman Qari Youself Ahmadi said the attack was a response to the anti-Islamic YouTube video that has caused protests throughout the Muslim world.

But the choice of target was no accident.

“We attacked that base because Prince Harry was also on it, and so they can know our anger,” Ahmadi told the Associated Press.

“Thousands more suicide attackers are ready to give up their lives for the sake of the Prophet.”

Prince Harry, who is third in line to the English throne, is currently serving a four-month tour of duty as a helicopter pilot, and was due to celebrate his 28th birthday on Saturday.

"Prince Harry was never in any danger,” said NATO spokesman Martyn Crighton. Camp Bastion is one of the most heavily fortified bases in the world, and the Prince was two kilometers from the attack site.

Harry’s previous deployment in Afghanistan more than four years ago was cut short when the media revealed his whereabouts. Britain’s Defence Ministry says it has no plans to cut short this tour of duty, despite the Taliban proclaiming that it was starting special “Harry Operations” that would target the prince.

Prince Harry flies an Apache helicopter, working on support missions. Britain has not lost any of its 67 Apaches in Afghanistan, and the Defence Ministry has claimed that the risk to the prince is “low.”

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Green on Blue Attack

Elsewhere in the south of the country, a member of the US-backed Afghan Local Police Force killed two NATO soldiers in a surprise attack, before being gunned down.

This brings the toll of NATO soldiers killed by official Afghan forces this year to 47.

The US is training the 16,000-strong Local Police Force to replace its troops when they leave in 2014.

It recently had to suspend a part of its training program after a rise in tensions between US soldiers and local recruits.

Afghanistan says it has sacked hundreds of security personnel who are suspected of being insurgent infiltrators.