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Taliban launch failed attack against NATO base

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RAHIM FAIEZ | August 28, 2013 12:01 PM EST | AP

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KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban fighters killed at least seven Afghans and wounded 10 Polish soldiers in a repelled assault Wednesday on a base that hosts troops from America and Poland in eastern Afghanistan, officials said.

A total of 19 people were killed and 63 were wounded in the base assault and in three other attacks around the country, part of an effort by the insurgents to ramp up their campaign against the international coalition and the government of President Hamid Karzai.

Maj. Marek Pietrzak, a Polish military spokesman in Warsaw, said insurgents tried to storm the base in eastern Ghazni city but were repelled. He said the Polish soldiers were wounded and hospitalized after the attack, though their lives were not in danger.

Poland's Defense Ministry said 10 insurgents also were killed in the attack. The Taliban later claimed responsibility for the assault in an email to journalists.

Deputy Ghazni Gov. Mohammad Ali Ahmadi said the attack began when an insurgent rammed a truck full of explosives into a perimeter wall. The blast failed to breach the wall, he said, and other insurgents on foot firing assault rifles did not manage to enter the base.

Another group also began firing from the opposite side of the base, Ahmadi said, but were killed by Afghan security forces.

Baz Mohammad Himat, director of Ghazni hospital, said he had seven corpses in his hospital from the attack, including four civilians and three police officers. He said his staff was treating another 35 people, including 12 children, who were wounded.

Both Pietrzak and Ahmadi said the attack was over, though sporadic gunfire was heard later around the city.

In one of two attacks Wednesday in southern Helmand province, authorities said a suicide bomber blew up a station wagon next to a U.S. military convoy and killed at least three civilians and wounded 15. Provincial spokesman Omer Zwak said the suicide car bomb attack happened in the provincial capital city of Laskar-Gah

There were no reports of coalition casualties. Soldiers usually drive in heavily armored vehicles.

"I have no idea who they intended to attack but I can tell you this, they killed three local nationals. The cowards that blew themselves up were sent by cowards called the Taliban," Marine Maj. Gen. Walter Miller, who commands coalition forces in Helmand, told The Associated Press.

In the other Helmand attack, the governor's office said a suicide bomber rammed a car into an Afghan army base, killing three soldiers and wounding four in the Nad Ali district, officials said.

In the fourth attack, spokesman Abdul Rahman Zhawandai of western Farah province said a rocket fired overnight at a parking lot used by truck drivers carrying fuel for the coalition hit a fully laden vehicle, which immediately caught fire. The ensuing blaze killed six Afghan drivers and wounded another 10, he said.

Zhawandai said the fire destroyed about 35 of the 40 trucks parked in the lot, which is used by drivers to safely spend the night. Drivers rarely travel in Afghanistan between dusk and dawn to avoid insurgent attacks.

The coalition imports all the fuel it uses in the country. Afghan civilian contractors transport it.

"The fire destroyed so many trucks because we have no way to fight them," Zhawandai said.

The Taliban also claimed responsibility for that attack.

The four attacks against coalition forces or interests were part of a Taliban campaign to retake territory after the international coalition handed over responsibility for security around the country to Afghan forces two months ago.

Insurgents have picked up the pace of their attacks, but they have so far been unsuccessful in retaking territory in their traditional southern and eastern heartlands.

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Associated Press writers Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Poland, Mirwais Khan in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and Patrick Quinn contributed to this report.