Insurgents storm Nato base in Afghanistan

 The attacks — in Jalalabad in the east and Kunduz province in the north — show the insurgents’ fighting spirit has not been broken despite a surge of the US troops and firepower.

They also demonstrate that the guerrillas are capable of striking outside their traditional southern strongholds of Kandahar and Helmand provinces that are the focus of the US surge.

The violence underscored continued instability in the country a week before a Nato summit in Lisbon, Portugal, to discuss shifting responsibility for security to Afghan forces.

The Taliban have targeted several US and Nato installations in the recent years with attacks that often do little damage but serve as a reminder that the insurgents are able to strike at the core of the international mission and to enjoy relative freedom of movement across the country despite coalition offensives and an infusion of thousands additional international forces.

Saturday’s attempted ambush of the base in Jalalabad, about 120 km east of Kabul on the main road between the Afghan capital and the Pakistan border, was the second against it in five months.

Several gunmen attacked an Afghan army checkpoint outside the heavily fortified coalition base at dawn, sparking a gunbattle that lasted for at least two hours as Nato helicopters fired from above. Six insurgents were killed, including two who were wearing explosives-laden suicide vests, according to the international military coalition. No Nato or Afghan troops were killed.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said there were 14 attackers and 11 of them were killed, though the insurgent group typically gives inflated numbers.

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