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Militants attack US base in Afghanistan

Militants wearing suicide vests try to storm a US military base near the border with Pakistan in a daring insurgent attack on a major American installation.

world Updated: Aug 19, 2008 11:50 IST

Militants wearing suicide vests tried to storm a US military base near the border with Pakistan in a daring insurgent attack on a major American installation, a provincial governor said on Tuesday.

The militants failed to gain entry to camp Salerno in Khost city, after launching waves of attacks just before midnight on Monday, said Arsallah Jamal. The base is just a few miles (kilometers) away from Pakistan's border.

The attack came one day after a suicide bomb outside the same base killed 10 civilians and wounded 13 others.

A US coalition spokesman, 1st Lt. Nathan Perry, said early on Tuesday that fighting around the base was still ongoing. He said there had been no American deaths.

The bodies of at least two dead militants were outside the checkpoint leading to the base's airport, both of whom have suicide vests on them, Jamal said.

Two Afghan civilians have died in the fighting so far, Jamal said.

Fighter aircraft and helicopters were chasing the retreating militants, but Afghan soldiers were reporting explosions coming from the areas where insurgents were taking cover, Jamal said. " The Afghan National Army is saying that anytime we get close to them, they detonate themselves," Jamal said.

Militants have long targeted US bases with suicide bombers, but coordinated attacks on such a major base are rare. The attack comes a day after the top US general in the region, Maj. Gen Jeffrey J Schloesser, issued a rare public warning that militants planned to attack civilian, military and government targets during the celebration of Independence Day on Monday.

More than 3,400 people mostly militants have been killed in insurgency-related violence this year, according to an Associated Press count based on figures from Western and Afghan officials.