The Taliban claimed responsibility Wednesday for a suicide bombing inside a US-Afghan base in eastern Afghanistan that killed two NATO service members.
A Taliban operative wearing an Afghan police uniform infiltrated the base Tuesday night and detonated his explosive vest next to a group of soldiers who were warming their hands beside a fire, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press by phone.
US troops command most of the eastern area bordering Pakistan, and local officials said they only knew of US soldiers and Afghan border police on Chergotah base.
A NATO statement on the attack confirmed that two of its service members died but did not give their nationalities. A number of others were wounded in the attack, the military alliance said.
The attack was a reminder of the increasing sophistication and reach of insurgents _ who have expanded attacks against targets like the capital and heavily guarded military outposts even as NATO forces have started to take back some of their strongholds in the south.
In December, a suicide bomber infiltrated a CIA base in Khost city, killing seven CIA employees and a Jordanian intelligence officer. The bomber was able to enter the base because the CIA was cultivating him as a potential source of information about al-Qaida leaders.
Tuesday's suicide attack was along the porous Pakistan border, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Khost city, the provincial capital. Khost's rugged mountains are dominated by the Haqqani network, an al-Qaida-linked Afghan Taliban faction blamed for the CIA attack.
A resident who lives near Chergotah base, Sayed Gul, told The Associated Press he heard a large explosion just after sunset and saw two helicopters land in the area of the base and then fly back toward Khost city.
NATO said an investigation into the attack was under way, but did not give further details. Provincial police chief Yaqoub Khan said he could not give details on the base that was attacked, but said all the NATO bases in the area are run by Americans.
On Monday, international and Afghan forces in Khost city repelled an insurgent attack on the provincial government headquarters, NATO said.