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Attack on US Afghan base kills two

An attack on the main US base in Afghanistan killed two soldiers of the NATO-led force today, the alliance said, in the first known casualties caused by hostile fire on the base since the Taliban's ouster.

At least six other soldiers were wounded in the strike on Bagram air field which lies some 50 km (30 miles) north of Kabul and serves as the hub of operations for some 57,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, NATO said in a statement.

A spokesman for NATO said the casualties were caused by three out of four rounds of mortars fired that landed inside the perimeter of the sprawling base, which has been hit by rocket attacks several times in the past.

He said the air field was functioning, but could not confirm or deny whether the casualties caused by today's attack were the first of their kind since US troops have been stationed there after toppling the Taliban from power in late 2001.

The statement said it was unclear if there were civilian casualties among Afghans living near the base.

NATO has not identified the nationality of the casualties, but most foreign troops based in Bagram are US soldiers, part of the 57,000-strong US force who along with some 33,000 NATO troops are fighting a resurgent Taliban.