Four dead as Taliban attack Italian base

Car bomb injures soldiers

Five Italian soldiers were wounded, one of them gravely, Italian Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa said.

Herat, western Afghanistan’s largest city, is one of seven areas scheduled to be handed over to Afghan control in July as the first step towards transitioning nationwide security responsibility from international forces to Afghan troops by 2014.

Attacks are rare inside the city, though there are a number of volatile districts on its outskirts. Attacks around Afghanistan have been increasing since the Taliban announced their spring offensive, with strikes on Kabul, the main southern city of Kandahar and in the north.

Assailant in uniform

In south on Monday, an Afghan wearing an army uniform shot and killed a Nato service member, the alliance said. Nato did not say exactly where the attack took place and it was not immediately clear whether the assailant was an Afghan soldier or a militant who had donned an army uniform to infiltrate Nato defenses. Previously, there have been cases of both.

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that plans to hand over control of seven areas to Afghan soldiers in July remained on course, despite new insurgent attacks.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi offered his “encouragement” to all Italian soldiers following Monday’s attack, but a member of Berlusconi’s Freedom party, Margherita Bonniver, said the attack should speed efforts to negotiate a pullout.

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