Attack on U.S. Base Injures 3 in Afghanistan

Insurgents rained mortar rounds on a U.S. base in Afghanistan (search), wounding three Afghan government soldiers, while 14 suspected Taliban (search) were arrested, American and Afghan officials said Monday.

Eleven mortar rounds fell near the base in southeastern Paktika province (search) in the past 24 hours, a U.S. military spokesman said.

The wounded soldiers from the new U.S.-trained Afghan National Army were evacuated to a field hospital at a larger U.S. base in neighboring Khost province and were in stable condition, said the spokesman, Maj. Mark McCann.

No American soldiers were reported hurt.

McCann said eight Taliban members were detained in a raid about a week ago in Char Cheno district of Central Uruzgan province after American forces received intelligence on their whereabouts.

One was believed to be a brother of the former Taliban governor of Kandahar, the southern city that was the hard-line regime's capital. McCann declined to identify him.

Afghan troops seized another six suspected Taliban in the same province on Saturday, Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Zaher Mohammed Azimi said. Two were Taliban commanders called Mullah Ghulam Nahim and Abdul Qadir, he said.

Azimi also reported the injury of six Afghan civilians in an explosion Saturday near Asadabad, in eastern Kunar province. Three were taken to the main U.S. base at Bagram, north of Kabul, where they were recovering after treatment, he said.

The cause of the explosion was unclear, although the area has seen roadside bombings aimed at Afghan and U.S. security forces as well as clashes between rival Afghan factions.

About 18,000 mainly American troops continue to hunt militants in southern and eastern Afghanistan, three years after U.S. and allied forces ousted the hard-line Taliban regime for harboring Al Qaeda (search) leader Usama bin Laden (search).

The U.S.-led force last week began a new winter-long offensive aimed at weakening rebels ahead of parliamentary elections slated for the spring, and at persuading Taliban militants to accept an Afghan government amnesty.