Taliban attacks Nato base in Afghanistan

Officials said three attacking insurgents were killed

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The Independent Online

A key supply road on the Afghan/Pakistani border was closed this morning after an insurgent attack on a Nato base.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on the Afghan side of the border, near Torkham, in northern Pakistan. Officials said at least three people — apparently all attacking insurgents — were killed, and the main section of the base was not breached. Four US vehicles were burned out.

The base came under attack at 6.30am local time, in a fight which lasted three and a half hours, according to local police.

A spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province said several militants, wearing suicide vests and carrying weapons, started a firefight with Afghan and US forces, as well as Nato helicopters.

Nato confirmed an "unsuccessful coordinated attack by enemy forces" and "a series of explosions" but said none of its personnel were killed, and Esa Khan Zwak, chief administrator in Mohmandara district, said no members of the Afghan security forces or civilians were killed or wounded.

The highway between Torkham and Jalalabad, in Afghanistan, is an important route for Nato supply trucks, and connects the troubled countries' capitals, Islamabad and Kabul.

Fighters on both sides of the border have frequently targeted the supply line, leading Nato to shift much of its supply delivery toward routes from Central Asian states instead of through Pakistan.

In an emailed statement, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the insurgent group was behind the attack, and claimed it had destroyed several tanks — an assertion police denied.

The Afghan authorities have been fighting the insurgency with little or no help from international forces that have been in the country since 2001's US-led invasion.

All Nato combat missions are planned to end by the end of next year, and the 100,000 foreign troops deployed across the country have already begun to withdraw from the battlefield.

The US provides the bulk of the military presence, with 68,000 troops, with the UK's 9,000 the second most.