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Target Tuesday: In Afghanistan, A Mortar Attack Caught On Tape

Medics with Butcher Troop, part of the US Army's 1st Infantry Division, rush a critically wounded Afghan National Army soldier to a waiting medevac helicopter after he was struck in the head with shrapnel from a mortar fired insurgents at Combat Outpost Wilderness in Paktia provence.At least 12 mortar rounds were fired at the base by Taliban insurgents from a nearby mountain top across the valley.
Medics with Butcher Troop, part of the US Army's 1st Infantry Division, rush a critically wounded Afghan National Army soldier to a waiting medevac helicopter after he was struck in the head with shrapnel from a mortar fired insurgents at Combat Outpost Wilderness in Paktia provence.At least 12 mortar rounds were fired at the base by Taliban insurgents from a nearby mountain top across the valley.

Our colleagues, embedded with troops in Afghanistan, witnessed a dramatic attack yesterday. NPR's Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman tells Michele Norris on today's All Things Consideredthat the attack happened while they were at a Combat Outpost called Wilderness, which is a short helicopter ride from the city of Khost.

"I was actually coming back from brushing my teeth and there was this massive explosion, maybe 40 yards away," said Tom. Soldiers started screaming "mortars, mortars!" And Tom headed for cover.

Tom said he later learned there are two days of the week when the Taliban tend to attack: that's rocket Sunday and target Tuesday.

NPR producer Graham Smith captured some audio as he left his shelter to look for our photographer David Gilkey:

Our colleagues were not hurt during the attack but one Afghan soldier was critically wounded.

David sent us these two pictures taken during the attack and after it:

A US Army medevac Blackhawk helicopter lifts off carrying a critically injured Afghan National Army soldier as his fellow soldiers watch at Combat Outpost Wilderness in Paktia provence, eastern Afghanistan. The ANA soldier was struck in the head with shrapnel during an enemy mortar barrage at the remote base in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan.
David Gilkey / NPR
A US Army medevac Blackhawk helicopter lifts off carrying a critically injured Afghan National Army soldier as his fellow soldiers watch at Combat Outpost Wilderness in Paktia provence, eastern Afghanistan. The ANA soldier was struck in the head with shrapnel during an enemy mortar barrage at the remote base in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan.

Note that we'll post full audio of the as-aired conversation a little later on tonight.

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