Afghanistan: Taliban 'Admit' US Troop Attack

Afghanistan: Taliban 'Admit' US Troop Attack

The Taliban has said it was behind an attack that killed four US troops in Afghanistan, just hours after Washington announced planned talks with the insurgents.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said: "Last night two big rockets were launched at Bagram (air base) which hit the target. Four soldiers are dead and six others are wounded. The rockets caused a major fire."

A US defence official said the deaths were caused by insurgent "indirect fire," either mortars or rockets.

Earlier, it was revealed that US representatives could meet the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, within days.

The Islamist group has opened a "political office" in the city and senior Obama administration officials described the move as a stepping stone to full Taliban renouncement of al Qaeda.

They said US and Taliban representatives will hold bilateral meetings, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai's High Peace Council expected to follow up with its own talks a few days later.

Taliban representative Mohammed Naeem told a news conference the group wanted good relations with its neighbours.

He said: "We want to keep good relations with all of the world countries, in particular with our neighbouring countries.

"But the Islamic emirate (Taliban) sees the independence of the nation from the current occupation as a national and religious obligation."

A Taliban statement added: "We support a political and peaceful solution that ends Afghanistan's occupation, and guarantees the Islamic system and nationwide security."

No date has been set for any talks.

The process is likely to take some time. The US will insist the Taliban breaks all ties with al Qaeda, end violence and accept the Afghan constitution.

Afghan government forces this week formally take over responsibility for national security from a US-led Nato combat mission scheduled to leave the country next year.

The handover includes the last 95 districts with areas in the south and east where the Taliban has concentrated its insurgency since 2001.