Dozens of Taliban fighters and suicide bombers attacked a US military base in eastern Afghanistan early Tuesday and at least 13 were killed, some in their own suicide blasts, Afghan officials said.
NATO's International Security Assistance Force confirmed that Camp Salerno in the eastern town of Khost, 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the border with Pakistan, had been attacked but could give few details.
"We have heard about suicide bombers on foot. They are receiving indirect fire," an officer in the ISAF media office in Kabul told AFP, referring to rocket and artillery fire.
He said he could not give more information because fighting was ongoing.
A suicide car bomb at the base on Monday killed 10 Afghan labourers waiting outside.
Afghan defence ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi said 15 "terrorists" had attacked the base early Tuesday.
"Our commando units were deployed into the area and engaged the attackers and pushed them back," he told AFP.
"So far 13 attackers have been killed. Six blew themselves up, six others died in the explosions and one died in gunfire from commandos. Their bodies have been recovered," Azimi said.
Six Afghan commandos had been wounded, he said.
A statement from Azimi's office said: "Thirteen suicide bombers were killed in Kijran area of Ali Sher district." The district surrounds Camp Salerno.
The Khost governor, Arsala Jamal, said his information was that "about 30 Taliban tried to attack the Salerno base."
"They were fired at. We have found six bodies which were all wearing suicide vests," he told AFP.
"Some of them have blown themselves up. Others are hiding in nearby houses and corn fields. The troops are searching for them," he said.
An Afghan army officer said on condition of anonymity that four US soldiers had been wounded. This could not immediately be confirmed by the US military.
The new attack comes a day after a suicide bombing outside Camp Salerno killed 10 Afghan labourers and wounded 13 more.
Security forces were able to prevent a second suicide attack moments later, the US-led coalition and Afghan officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility.
The Taliban were driven from power in a US-led invasion in late 2001 because they would not hand over their Al-Qaeda allies wanted for the September 11 attacks on the United States.
However, they regrouped, with some of them taking refuge in Pakistan, to launch a snowballing insurgency that military officials say is attracting more Arab, Pakistani and other Muslim fighters.
Violence has escalated into the summer and military officials have said it is 50 percent up this year compared to last in some parts of the country.
The defence ministry announced separately Tuesday that 10 militants had been killed in the southern province of Helmand and 10 wounded. The province has seen weeks of fighting.
Source: AFP South Asian Edition