An apparent suicide bombing at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan just after 5:30 a.m. Eastern Time today took the lives of two U.S. service members and two U.S. contractors working on the base.
The explosion additionally wounded 16 other U.S. service members and one Polish soldier participating in the NATO mission, according to a statement from Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
Bagram Airfield is the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan.
“I want to express my sincere condolences to the families of the fallen, and I want to reassure the loved ones of those injured that they are getting the best possible care,” the defense secretary said. “Force protection is always a top priority for us in Afghanistan, and we will investigate this tragedy to determine any steps we can take to improve it.”
“For those who carried out this attack, my message is simple,” Carter said. “We will not be deterred in our mission to protect our homeland and help Afghanistan secure its own future.”
In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the attack has been planned for months and that the suicide bomber had targeted “a sports ground where more than 100 military officers, important people and soldiers were busy exercising,” according to reporting from CNN.
Response teams at Bagram continue to treat the wounded and investigate the incident.
“To the family and friends of those who lost their lives today, we share your loss and our thoughts are with you. We offer you our deepest condolences. For the family and friends of those wounded in today’s attack, let me assure you they are receiving the best care possible, and we will keep them in our thoughts today,” said Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of Resolute Support. “To those who target coalition forces, ANDSF, and Afghan civilians, Resolute Support and USFOR-A will continue to pursue our Train, Advise and Assist mission to help our partners create a better Afghanistan.”