Taliban attack on NATO base in Afghanistan kills two

A Taliban rocket attack on a NATO base in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar killed two international soldiers and wounded six, officials said.

It came a day after gunmen dressed in Afghan police uniforms and wearing suicide vests stormed a government compound in the southwestern province of Farah, killing seven people and wounding 12 others.

The Taliban this month announced the start of their annual spring offensive, a campaign of bombings and attacks that picks up every year as the weather warms.

A local spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said of the latest incident: "Two ISAF soldiers were killed and six others injured in a Taliban rocket attack on an ISAF base in Nari district today."

Two other local officials confirmed the account, while the ISAF press office in Kabul said that "two service members died following an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan".

It gave no further details and did not reveal the nationalities of the dead soldiers, in line with policy.

ISAF has around 130,000 soldiers fighting alongside some 350,000 Afghan security personnel against the hardline Islamists.

At least 158 ISAF troops have died in Afghanistan this year, according to a toll by the website icasualties.org. More than 3,000 have been killed since the US led an invasion to topple the Taliban in late 2001.

NATO is to pull its troops out of the country in 2014 and details of the process will be hammered out at a summit in Chicago starting on Sunday.

Afghanistan is looking to NATO countries to provide at least $4.1 billion a year for its security forces after the troops withdraw, saying it should be seen as insurance against a resurgence of terror attacks on Western countries.

"This is not charity, Afghanistan is and will be on the frontline of the world's fight against terrorism," deputy foreign minister Jawed Ludin told foreign journalists.

Describing the $4.1 billion figure as "modest", Ludin said it would be far cheaper for contributing countries to have Afghans fighting the war on terror on their behalf than doing it themselves.

The United States, which has nearly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, spends close to $10 billion a month on the war.

In return for the funding, Afghanistan will commit to preserving gains in respect of democracy and human rights, and will be an ally of the international community in the fight against terrorism, Ludin said.

In Chicago, NATO is sure to talk up the ability of Afghanistan to survive the departure of its troops, both in terms of security and the economy.

But NATO's rush to get out of a "quagmire" in Afghanistan risks the collapse of the state and strategic failure for the Western alliance in its decade-long war, former senior EU adviser Barbara Stapleton on Afghanistan warned this week.

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