Taliban armed with guns and explosives struck a U.S.-run base in Kandahar on Thursday, with blasts and gunfire reverberating in the southern Afghan city, said police and witnesses.

A group of “three to four” armed men, possibly with suicide vests, had taken up positions in an empty compound that was once used by the USAID development agency and were firing on the base, according to police.

A NATO spokesman in Kandahar said the military had reports one civilian foreign national and one Afghan soldier had been wounded, while helicopters had been deployed. “They have parked two explosives-laden motorcycles and one minivan near the compound.... Police have arrived at the scene and are trying to diffuse the explosives,” said a police spokesman. Five explosions were earlier heard at the base, and a sixth huge explosion later rocked the area near the base, throwing huge plumes of smoke into the sky.

The road leading to the base had been blocked, but a witness who owns a nearby shop said he had heard sporadic gunfire. “The armed men have taken position in a building near the PRT [provincial reconstruction team] base and are firing on the base,” he said.

A senior police official said a security meeting attended by the Kandahar provincial Governor, and officials from NATO's International Security Assistance Force had been taking place at the base at the time, but none of those present was hurt. — AFP