Updated: 01/20/2014 20:40 | By Agence France-Presse

NATO soldier killed in Afghan multiple suicide attack

Nine Taliban militants launched a suicide assault against a US base in southern Afghanistan on Monday, killing one NATO soldier in a region where foreign troops are rapidly pulling out, officials said.

NATO soldier killed in Afghan multiple suicide attack

A US soldier serving with NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) patrols Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, on August 6, 2010 - by Yuri Cortez

One attacker detonated a suicide car bomb outside the walls before eight other insurgents wearing ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) uniforms tried to storm the base in Zhary district, Kandahar province.

The NATO coalition is ending its mission in Afghanistan in December, and newly released figures revealed that 57,000 ISAF troops now remain in the country -- down sharply from nearly 100,000 in June.

"Initially a suicide car bomber detonated on the northern walls of the base and eight attackers tried to enter the base before being killed in return fire," Kandahar province's media office said in a statement.

"In today's attack, one ISAF soldier was also killed. No civilians or Afghan security forces have suffered any casualties.

"The attackers were carrying light weapons and all were dressed in ISAF uniforms."

An ISAF spokesman confirmed that one service member had died but declined to give the casualty's nationality, in line with coalition policy. 

"There were multiple individuals. All the enemy have been killed. It was a complex attack against an ISAF base involving a suicide car bombing, suicide vests and small arms fire," he told AFP.

A Taliban spokesman said that the attackers had penetrated the base's defences in a "coordinated group martyrdom assault".

NATO combat forces are withdrawing from Afghanistan this year after more than a decade of fighting the Taliban, but negotiations have stalled over a deal to allow some US and NATO troops to stay after 2014.

Kandahar is the Taliban's spiritual home and has long been a flashpoint region in the Islamists' 13-year guerrilla war against NATO forces and the Kabul government.

Taliban insurgents have also claimed responsibility for Friday evening's suicide assault on a popular Lebanese restaurant in Kabul in which 21 people, including 13 foreigners, were killed.

In the deadliest attack on foreign civilians since the Taliban were ousted in 2001, one attacker detonated his suicide vest at the fortified entrance before two other militants gunned down diners and staff.

Among the dead were three Americans, two British citizens, two Canadians, the International Monetary Fund head of mission, and the Lebanese owner of the Taverna du Liban, which was a popular social venue for expats.

Afghanistan's National Security Council, which is chaired by President Hamid Karzai, on Sunday accused "foreign intelligence services" of being behind the attack, in a veiled reference to Pakistan.

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