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Suicide bomber, insurgents attack NATO contractor
Suicide car bomber, insurgents attack NATO contractor's offices in western Afghan province
By The Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) ' Insurgents set off a car bomb near NATO's western Afghan headquarters and stormed a compound belonging to a contractor working with the coalition, sparking an hours-long gun battle, officials said.

The attack, which took place near NATO's regional headquarters in the province of Herat, comes just days after the Taliban launched a brazen, two-pronged assault on a compound housing United Nations and international aid groups offices in southern Afghanistan. Five people were killed in that attack, including three working with the U.N.'s refugee organization.

Thursday's attack began with a suicide car bombing near the entrance of the company, which is located along the main road to the airport in the provincial capital's Guzra district, said Noorkhan Nekzad, the spokesman for Herat province's police chief.

NATO said the attack occurred near the compound for ESKO company, a contractor for Italian troops services and that the coalition had dispatched to the scene a quick reaction force that included ground and air assets.

The explosion was about half a mile (one kilometer) from Camp Arena, headquarters for NATO's Regional Command West, the coalition's main base in the region, a coalition spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity pending the official release of other details.

Initial reports indicate that one guard was injured in the blast, said Muhiudin Noori, spokesman for the province's governor.

Afghan security forces responded to the attack and a gun battle was ongoing hours later, the two Afghan officials said.

The road is a route often used by NATO and Afghan forces.


Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez contributed.

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