A coalition heavy-transport helicopter parked inside the sprawling Bagram Air Base was hit and destroyed by insurgent fire late Monday, killing three Afghan service personnel who were on board, NATO said Tuesday.
NATO service members also on the helicopter, a Chinook CH-47, at the time of the attack were injured, but there were no other fatalities, said Lt. Col. Hagen Messer, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
"We can confirm that an ISAF helicopter was destroyed by indirect fire," he said, describing in general terms the use of either mortar or rocket fire, though he said it was not clear precisely what weapon was used. "The helicopter caught fire after it was hit."
Messer said the service members were part of a crew conducting routine nighttime maintenance when the attack struck, around 10:30 p.m. Monday. But Roshna Khalid, spokeswoman for the governor of Parwan province, where Bagram is located, said the helicopter had been hit by a rocket attack as it came in to land. She identified the three dead Afghans as belonging to the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's intelligence agency.
In a statement, the Taliban claimed responsibility.
Indiscriminate attacks involving mortar shells or rockets fired by insurgents hiding outside the heavily fortified Bagram Air Base, one of the biggest U.S. military bases in Afghanistan, occur frequently, but they rarely result in such serious damage.
Dempsey was asleep at the time and not near the plane.