Taliban attack NATO-Afghan base, casualties

Monday, March 3, 2008; 9:13 AM

KHOST, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Taliban insurgents assaulted a compound used by NATO and Afghan forces on Monday in a gun and truck bomb attack that caused several casualties, an official from southeast Khost province said.

Three NATO soldiers were wounded, a spokesman for the U.S. military said. An Afghan working as a labourer in the base was killed and several others were wounded, a hospital doctor said.

Assailants opened fire on soldiers manning the compound, then drove a bomb-laden truck inside before detonating the explosives, the Afghan provincial official said.

The attack occurred in Sabri district close to the border with Pakistan, Sabri's district chief, Lutfullah Babakarkheil, told Reuters.

"I know two rooms have been destroyed and there are some casualties," he said.

A spokesman for the Taliban, which leads the insurgency against the government and foreign troops, said members of the group had carried out the attack. The spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, was speaking by telephone from an undisclosed location.

The base was used by U.S.-led coalition and Afghan security forces, said Major Christine Nelson-Chung, a spokeswoman for the U.S. military in the province.

"As of right now we are not tracking any killed ... we believe it was a rocket attack," she said.

Residents reported hearing several explosions at the base.

Several NATO helicopters were also seen rushing towards the site, witnesses said, adding they saw a number of casualties being taken out from the base in vehicles.

(Additional reporting by Jon Hemming; Writing by Sayed Salahuddin; Editing by David Fogarty and Jerry Norton)

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