Taliban militants attacked a coalition military base in southern Afghanistan for the second time Saturday and the third time this week, the U.S.-led coalition said.
It warned the ambushes could “possibly be a rehearsal for a much bigger attack, possibly an attempt to completely overrun the post.”
Afghan and coalition soldiers at Firebase Anaconda in Uruzgan province fought off the attackers Saturday. Several Taliban militants were killed, and two insurgents were wounded and taken into custody.
Earlier, another attack at the base led to fighting that killed four militants.
On Tuesday, 75 fighters ambushed the same outpost from three directions. Almost a third of them were killed when troops and U.S. warplanes repelled the attack. Along with U.S.-led coalition forces, there is a large Dutch troop presence in Uruzgan.
“The insurgents are paying a high price to test our response to attacks on our bases,” said Army Capt. Vanessa R. Bowman, a coalition spokeswoman, according to The Associated Press.
“Though direct attacks are an unorthodox method for Taliban fighters, we remain prepared to fight them in any way they choose, though we find they are regularly unprepared for our methods of combat,” she said.
U.S. and NATO troops have been battling a resurgent Taliban in southern Afghanistan for months.
The Islamic fundamentalist militia once ruled Afghanistan and allowed al Qaeda to operate from its territory, but a U.S.-led coalition ousted it from power after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
There have been a flurry of battles this week in two other volatile southern Afghan provinces — Kandahar and Helmand.
A battle on Saturday northwest of Sangin in Helmand province “ended with another defeat of the Taliban by pro-government forces,” the coalition said. Three Afghan and one coalition soldier were wounded.
Afghan and coalition troops defeated Taliban insurgents in a daylong battle Friday in Kandahar province that was triggered by an attempted ambush, the U.S. military said. About a dozen insurgents were killed, and one Afghan and one coalition soldier were slightly hurt.
Earlier Friday, Afghan and coalition troops fought a large battle with militants in Helmand province. The battle began Thursday and lasted more than 13 hours, the U.S. military said. It said at least 10 insurgents were killed, with no Afghan, coalition or civilian losses reported.
On Tuesday, Afghan police staved off an ambush north of Sangin in Helmand province, and coalition aircraft pounded insurgent positions, the military said. More than two dozen insurgents were reported killed.