Militants killed in attack on Nato base

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Taliban insurgents detonated a lorry bomb, then tried to storm a Nato base in eastern Afghanistan yesterday, but coalition forces repelled the attack, killing 14 militants, officials said.

No foreign or Afghan troops were killed, according to Nato, but the attack showed the fundamentalist movement remains a resilient force even as Afghan President Hamid Karzai insists it does not have the means to retake the nation after foreign forces leave.

In the past two years, the coalition has sent tens of thousands of troops into Taliban strongholds in the south and has largely succeeded in boosting security there.

The Taliban responded by opening up new fronts in the north and west and stepping up attacks in the east, where much of the heaviest fighting is now concentrated.

Nato plans to pull combat troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and turn security over to local forces.

The blast occurred at a coalition base about three miles outside Khost. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Police said the attack occurred at Camp Salerno and six civilians – three women and three children – were slightly wounded. Nato said it had no reports of any civilians being hurt.

United States Army Major Paul Haverstick, a spokesman for the coalition, said no Afghan or foreign troops were killed and only a few coalition forces suffered minor injuries.

He said insurgents detonated a lorry loaded with explosives at the entrance to the camp, allowing other insurgents to enter the compound. Two militants wearing explosive vests blew themselves up prematurely and caused no damage. Afghan and coalition forces opened fire and a total of 14 militants died in the attack.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed a suicide bomber targeted the base in an explosives-filled vehicle and after the blast other insurgents entered the compound on foot and opened fire.

He claimed that an aeroplane on an airstrip at the base was destroyed and that “tens” of foreign forces were killed and wounded.