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Korea’s Afghan base attacked; no injuries

Four artillery landed in and around a base in Afghanistan, where South Korean aid workers and troops are stationed, early on Thursday, but there were no injuries, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

“Four unidentified artillery rounds landed in and around the base at around 9:30 p.m., local time, but there were no injuries and no damage on our equipment and facilities,” said a JCS official, declining to be named.

“Two of the rounds appear to have landed inside the base. One of them landed outside and one presumably detonated in midair.”

This was the sixth attack this year against the base in Charikar City in the northern Afghan province of Parwan.

The JCS official said that after the attack, the South Korean military contingent, “Ashena” unit, mobilized a military chopper and searched the area in cooperation with U.S. troops, but found nothing “unusual” there.

“The Ashena unit has recently beefed up its vigilance, carefully monitoring situations in this country. We are trying our utmost to maintain high readiness there,” he said.

The shelling came as threats of terrorist attacks have risen since Osama Bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaida, was shot to death in a U.S. military raid in Pakistan on May 1.

Seoul officials are trying to identify the attackers.

“We have yet to find out who is responsible for the attack. In tandem with the government, police and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, we will seek to ascertain how the attack was carried out,” a government official said on condition of anonymity.

More than 300 South Korean troops have been deployed to Charikar City to protect the Korean civilians working there as part of the Provincial Reconstruction Team to help rebuild the war-torn country.

About 90 South Korean aid workers and police officers are operating in the PRT there. In Afghanistan, some 15 countries are participating in the PRT operation under the protection of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, which consists of troops from 46 countries.

The primary task of the PRT is to help bolster the administrative capabilities of the Afghan provincial government and stabilize the region. It also offers medical services, assistance for agricultural development, and vocational and police training.

By Song Sang-ho (