Six Nato troops killed by suicide bomber in Afghanistan

A suicide attacker detonated a minibus packed with explosives near the gates of a military base in southern Afghanistan today, killing six Nato troops and two Afghan soldiers, officials said.

The attack took place in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, where the U.S. poured in troops this summer as part of a surge of forces to try to oust the Taliban from its southern strongholds.

Gen. Abdul Hamid, the Afghan army chief for the province, said the attacker drove a minibus up to the entrance of the base this morning just as vehicles were preparing to move out on a patrol.

Lucky escape: Wounded Afghan soldiers are airlifted to hospital onboard a Blackhawk helicopter following the bomb attack

Lucky escape: Wounded Afghan soldiers are airlifted to hospital onboard a Blackhawk helicopter following the bomb attack

'They were leaving the compound and at that moment, the minibus attacked and they hit right at the entrance of the base,' Hamid said.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the insurgent group was retaliating for all the attacks launched on them in the area in recent months.

Nato declined to identify the nationalities of the six fatalities, although most Nato troops in the south of the country are American.

More than 670 international troops have been killed in Afghanistan this year, well above the 502 killed in 2009.

Today's attack was the second incident in two weeks to kill so many service personnel. On November 29, an Afghan policeman turned his gun on his American trainers in the east, killing six of them before he was gunned down. The Taliban claimed that they had sent him to join the police as a sleeper agent.

On November 14, five U.S. soldiers were killed in an insurgent attack on their unit in eastern Afghanistan.

In a separate incident this weekend, Nato said a Taliban leader was killed and a key member of another militant group was captured in the east.

The Taliban leader was involved in weapons smuggling and attacks in eastern Wardak province. Nato identified him only by his first name, Fedahi.

Nato said two men threatened coalition troops as they entered a compound on Saturday night where they had heard Fedahi was staying. They shot and killed both men, one of whom was later identified as Fedahi, the statement said. It said no civilians were harmed in the operation.

In another raid in eastern Khost province on Saturday night, Nato and Afghan troops captured a leader of the Haqqani network, a Pakistan-based Taliban faction closely tied to Al Qaeda.

Coalition troops picked up the insurgent in a compound in Terayzai district, Nato said, adding that the detainee has conducted bomb attacks and ambushes against Afghan and coalition troops.

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