KABUL (Reuters) - Taliban insurgents armed with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, as well as a suicide car bomber, attacked two bases used by foreign troops in southern Afghanistan Thursday, the U.S. embassy and NATO-led coalition officials said.
An attack on a military and civilian provincial reconstruction team (PRT) in southern Kandahar province, the birthplace of the Taliban, was still going several hours after it began, and there were some unconfirmed reports of casualties.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
“The attack included RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) and small arms fire and is still ongoing at this time,” the U.S. embassy in Kabul said in a statement Thursday evening.
“Afghan and coalition forces have responded to the incident. All PRT chief of mission personnel are safe and accounted for, but there are unconfirmed reports of a number of other injuries,” it said.
Afghan interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said soldiers also found a car suspected to contain explosives, and sealed off the area while inspecting the vehicle for bombs.
Earlier, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul said no ISAF troops had been killed in the Kandahar PRT attack.
Also Thursday, a suicide attacker detonated a car bomb outside an ISAF base in Kandahar province’s Panjwai district. There were no ISAF casualties and the perimeter of the base was not breached, the coalition said.
Kandahar city, 480 km (300 miles) southwest of the capital, Kabul, and surrounding districts remain some of the most insecure areas of Afghanistan despite more than a year of offensives by NATO and Afghan troops.
Violence across Afghanistan is at its worst since the start of the war 10 years ago, according to the United Nations, despite the presence of more than 130,000 foreign troops.
ISAF says there has recently been a fall in attacks by insurgents but this data excludes attacks that kill only civilians and attacks on Afghan security forces operating without international troops.
There has been a series of high-profile assassinations, as well as day-to-day attacks by insurgents, over the past year.
In one of the most spectacular attacks, insurgents launched a 20-hour assault on the U.S. embassy and ISAF headquarters in Kabul in September, killing more than a dozen people.
In August, Taliban suicide bombers killed at least 22 people in an attack on the governor of Parwan province’s compound.
Reporting by Mirwais Harooni and Daniel Magnowski; Editing by Paul Tait