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12 killed as Taliban targets U.S. base

KABUL -- Two suicide attackers, one driving a fuel tanker, blew themselves up near a U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan Saturday, killing at least 12 people, officials said.

The attack, around dawn in Sayed Abad in Wardak province, about 40 miles from Kabul, served as a reminder that even after a decade of fighting, tens of thousands of U.S. and foreign troops are still engaged in a war that shows no signs of slowing down despite the start of a withdrawal of coalition forces.

The U.S.-led NATO coalition said that no American or coalition troops were killed in the blasts. It confirmed that a number of troops were wounded, but did not say how many, in accordance with coalition policy.

Shahidullah Shadid, a spokesman for the Wardak provincial governor, said one suicide bomber detonated a vest rigged with explosives outside a compound housing the district governor's office as well as local police and Afghan army headquarters. A second bomber driving a fuel tanker detonated his bomb on a road separating the compound from the base.

Shadid said the dead included eight civilians and four Afghan police.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, which he said was targeting the U.S. base.

Government officials said the first attacker blew himself up to try to eliminate the Afghan security force guarding the compound and clear the way for the truck to hit the base down the road from the governor's complex. The second bomber then blew up the fuel tanker as he was approaching the base. One of the town's main bazaars is also located near the bomb site.

Officials said the second blast was far larger than the first.

"It was a very powerful explosion. It broke windows all over the area," provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Qayum Bakizai said. "Most of the injuries are from broken glass from the windows of homes and shops. It was so powerful we couldn't find much of the truck." The governor's office said in a statement that 59 people were wounded -- two NATO troops, 47 civilians and 10 Afghan police officers.

Last year, the same base in Wardak was the target of another suicide bombing. That blast, which occurred on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against the United States, wounded 77 American soldiers and killed five Afghans. No U.S. troops were killed when a massive truck bomb exploded outside the base.

In a separate incident Saturday, NATO said, two U.S. soldiers were killed in eastern Ghazni province. It did not provide any additional information.

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