Two British soldiers from a Nato-led peacekeeping force were among three people wounded in Friday's suicide car-bomb attack in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of the southern province of Helmand, an Afghan official said.

None of the wounds were life threatening, a British spokeswoman said.

The attacker died as he rammed his car into a vehicle near the entrance of a base used by foreign troops, said senior provincial official Moheedin Khan.

The attack took place outside a base of British and US troops in Lashkar Gah, Khan said.

He said "an Afghan citizen also received non-life-threatening injuries from the explosion".

Taliban claim

A spokesman for the Taliban movement that has been waging an insurgency since being removed from power in late 2001 said the attack against "infidel foreign troops" was carried out by a 21-year-old Taliban member.
  
Another attacker detonated a car bomb outside the same base one week ago, wounding two US soldiers and a US civilian. That attack was also claimed by the Taliban.

The base is home to US troops and a few hundred British soldiers who are preparing for the arrival of the main force of more than 3,000 to take part in counter-insurgency and anti-narcotics operations.

In other news, six Taliban fighters were reportedly killed in an air strike by US-led forces in eastern Afghanistan on Friday.

The air strike was carried out in Kunar province as part of Operation Lion launched on Wednesday to flush out insurgents from the area, security officials said.

Mullah Omar is said to have
warned of increased attacks

Separately, there was a fierce battle in Singesar village in  neighbouring Kandahar province, where Mullah Omar, the fugitive leader of the Taliban, lived for many years.

Up to 60 Taliban fighters clashed with hundreds of troops in a  battle that erupted in the morning, General Rahmatullah Raufi, chief military commander for southern Afghanistan, said.

Witnesses said multinational force aircraft had been called in and had fired at least two rockets.

In another attack on Friday, a bomb planted by Taliban fighters hit a government convoy in the east of the country near the town of Khost, killing three policemen and injuring two others, police said.

And in an assassination linked to the Taliban, an official working for a government religious council in Kandahar city was shot dead late on Thursday while walking home from a mosque, said Sayed Imam Mutawali, a member of the council.

Taliban threat

Mullah Sayed Massoud Shah, who worked on the council's communications, "received a threat from the Taliban a month ago demanding he stop working for the government or he would be killed", Mutawali said.

The insurgency by the Taliban and other fighters is blamed for most of 2,000 deaths since the beginning of 2005.

Western and Afghan forces this week launched their biggest operation this year against the insurgents with 2,500 troops backed by warplanes striking an area in eastern Kunar province on Wednesday.

The Taliban were toppled in a US-led attack weeks after the  September 11, 2001, attacks blamed on al-Qaeda, which was sheltered by the Taliban government.

Taliban leader Omar warned last month of an increase in suicide attacks as part of a new offensive.