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Two US troops die in base attack far from Helmand offensive

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Two American soldiers were killed in a Taliban attack on a US base in relatively quiet eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, far from the front lines of a major US offensive in southern Helmand province, an extremist stronghold.

The surprise attack took place in the Zerok district of Paktika province, hundreds of miles from where US forces expected to engage the Taliban, highlighting the group's resilience in the face of US efforts to stabilize the country in the run up to the presidential election in August.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the base came under a "sophisticated" and "multi-pronged" attack from as many as 100 militants armed with rockets, mortars, white phosphorus, and a truck bomb. The Times says the attack "[forced] the defenders to call in airstrikes to avoid being overrun."

It is unclear how many US and Afghan troops were injured or how many insurgents were killed. The Associated Press reports that seven US and two Afghan soldiers were wounded and 30 militants killed, but the LA Times reports that US officials "declined to reveal the number."

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