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Bomb Kills 5 NATO Troops, 4 Afghan Soldiers


Afghan and international officials say a suicide bomb attack has killed at least nine soldiers outside a military base in eastern Afghanistan.

NATO officials said five of the dead were soldiers from the international coalition. Afghan military officials said the blast killed four of its soldiers and wounded four translators.

The Taliban claimed responsibility and said the bomber was a sleeper agent who joined the army a month ago.

It was one one of the single most deadly attacks on international forces in Afghanistan in months.

The attack took place at about 7.30 a.m. local time. The nationalities of the foreign forces have not been disclosed.

Baz Mohammad, a doctor in Jalalabad's main hospital, confirmed that four Afghan soldiers were among the dead.

"We received eight wounded and four martyred from this attack," Mohammad said. "The wounded have received first aid and now their situation is good and they will be sent home very soon."

"Today, when there was a meeting going on between Afghan and foreign soldiers, he used the opportunity to carry out the attack," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in an e-mail to reporters.

Disguised Bomber

An Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, General Mohammad Zahir Azimi, said the bomber was on foot when he detonated an explosive-packed vest as workers began their morning shift at the Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Laghman Province's Qarghayi district. He declined to comment on the Taliban's claim that the attacker had been serving in the army.

Some Afghan officials were reported to have dismissed the claim and insisted the attacker was wearing a fake uniform. Security force uniforms are said to be easy to obtain in markets across Afghanistan, although their sale is supposed to be illegal.

However, Reuters reported that the Afghan Defense Ministry was investigating whether he was indeed a rogue soldier who turned on his comrades.

While Afghan army recruits are supposed to be vetted by past employers or village elders, in practice such checks are often rudimentary in a country with only 28 percent literacy and little computerized record-keeping.

The April 16 attack is the latest in a recent spate in which security personnel have been killed by assailants dressed in official uniform. On April 15, the police chief of Kandahar Province, Khan Mohammad Mujahid, was shot dead inside police headquarters by a man who walked into his office wearing an officer's uniform.

Earlier this month, a man wearing an Afghan border police uniform shot dead two U.S. military personnel tasked with helping train members of the country's security forces in Faryab Province.

In November, an Afghan border policeman shot to death six American soldiers in the eastern province of Nangarhar. The policeman had been in the force for three years and had accompanied American troopers for about three months when he opened fire on them. The Taliban took responsibility for that attack.

based on agency reports