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Top US general's aircraft hit by rocket-fire in Afghanistan

General Martin Dempsey was not on board at the time of the rocket attack, but the damage forced him to use another plane for Tuesday's flight to Iraq. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

Updated at 6:40 a.m. ET: An aircraft used by U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Martin Dempsey was damaged by rocket-fire at an airbase outside Kabul, Afghanistan, NATO said on Tuesday. The general was not on board at the time and no one was injured.

At around 1 a.m. (4:30 p.m. ET) on Tuesday, insurgents fired rockets or mortars into the base airfield, a source in Bagram Air Field told NBC News.  Two landed  in the air field, with one of them hitting the plane used by Dempsey, the source added. 


Massoud Hossaini / AFP - Getty Images

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey (C) poses at NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters in Kabul on Monday.

Meanwhile, NATO's mission in Afghanistan confirmed that the plane had been damaged by incoming fire, saying it had been hit by "shrapnel from an indirect fire round."

"The round was one of two that impacted Bagram last night. An ISAF helicopter was also damaged," the ISAF statement added.

Photos: Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads

"(Dempsey) was nowhere near the aircraft. We think it was a lucky shot," NATO senior spokesman Col. Thomas Collins told Reuters.

A new plane was brought in for Dempsey and he and his crew departed later in the morning.

The aircraft was only being used temporarily by Dempsey and his staff. 

Bagram targeted
Dempsey had been in the country on a two-day visit for talks with NATO and Afghan commanders on a string of recent rogue shootings. 

Bagram is occasionally targeted with rockets and mortar shells fired by insurgents from surrounding hills and fields. 

What's leading Afghan troops to turn on coalition forces?

Sporadic attacks also occur at NATO's other main airbase in Afghanistan, Kandahar Airfield, in the volatile south, although they rarely cause deaths or major damage. 

Before leaving Afghanistan, Dempsey met his Afghan counterpart, General Sher Mohammad Karimi, who raised the issue of insider attacks by rogue forces that have killed 10 American troops in the past two weeks. 

"In the past, it's been us pushing on them to make sure they do more," he said on Monday. "This time, without prompting, when I met General Karimi, he started with a conversation about insider attacks -- and, importantly, insider attacks not just against us, but insider attacks against the Afghans, too." 

NBC's Atia Abawai explains what's behind the worsening attacks on U.S. military personnel by Afghan security and military to NBC's Andrea Mitchell.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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