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Taliban target NATO's Jalalabad base

Gunmen attacked a NATO base in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday. Authorities said at least eight insurgents had died in the ensuing gun battle with troops.

Smoke rises outside the airfield in Jalalabad following the attack

Smoke rises outside the airfield in Jalalabad following the attack

In a brazen daylight attack, militants set off a car bomb and stormed the entrance to an airport located outside Jalalabad near the border with Pakistan, officials said. NATO said that combined Afghan and international forces had repelled the gunmen immediately.

"The airfield's perimeter was not breached, and several insurgents were killed during the attack," a NATO statement said.

The statement also said that two service personnel had been injured in the attack. It did not reveal their nationalities. The militants reportedly used light weapons and rocket-propelled grenades to launch their assault. Subsequent fighting lasted some 30 minutes. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack shortly afterwards.

US soldiers collect the body of an insurgent from a vineyard near the Bagram airbase after an insurgent attack on May 19, 2010

US soldiers collect the body of an insurgent from a vineyard near the Bagram airbase after an insurgent attack on May 19, 2010

Jalalabad is one of NATO's largest bases in Afghanistan, after Kandahar in the south and Bagram just north of Kabul. These two latter bases have already been targeted by the Taliban in recent months.

Fighting in the east

In a separate incident in eastern Afghanistan, NATO said a US soldier had died of wounds sustained in another gun battle with insurgents. NATO did not provide other details.

About 600 Afghan and US forces have been fighting an estimated 250 Taliban and al Qaeda fighters in the Marawara district of the eastern province of Kunar since last weekend.

A total of 102 NATO troops have been killed in Afghanistan this June, making it the deadliest month for the foreign forces since the US-led invasion of 2001 that ousted the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Gen. David Petraeus replaces Stanley McChrystal

Gen. David Petraeus replaces Stanley McChrystal

The latest violence comes just days before US General David Petraeus is due to take up his post as NATO commander in Afghanistan amid mounting concerns about slow progress in the nearly nine-year-old conflict.

Petraeus replaced General Stanley McChrystal who was sacked as the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan following criticism of the Obama administration in Washington.

du/AFP/AP/dpa
Editor: Anne Thomas

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