|Afghan police cordoned off the area as they fought the attackers for four hours [AFP]
Afghan and coalition forces have killed the gunmen who attacked a US-run base in southern Afghanistan, ending a four-hour siege, according to police officials and the Afghan interior ministry.
A group of "three to four" armed men, possibly wearing suicide vests, had taken up positions in an empty compound in Kandahar that was once used by the USAID development agency and were firing rockets on the US base, police said on Wednesday.
Police entered the three-storey building and killed the attackers four hours after the firing began, at around 2:45pm local time, Kandahar police spokesman Ghorzang, who goes by one name, said.
Five explosions were earlier heard at the base, and a sixth huge explosion later rocked the area near the base, throwing huge plumes of smoke into the sky.
"One American civilian contractor and two Afghan security guards were injured, one Afghan interpreter was killed, and five ISAF service members were slightly wounded as a result of the attack," the US-led NATO coalition said in a statement.
The target of the attack, which the Taliban have claimed responsibility for, was a security meeting at the base attended by the Kandahar provincial governor, security officials and commanders from NATO's International Security Assistance Force, a senior police official told the AFP news agency.
None of the officials were hurt in the attack.
Two other attacks were also launched in Kandahar on Thursday.
A suicide bomber targeted a coalition base in Panjwai district, detonating a vehicle containing an improvised explosive device outside the perimeter of the base.
There were no ISAF casualties and the perimeter was not breached, ISAF said.
And in the western district of Zhari, armed fighters attacked a NATO fuel tanker, killing the driver and setting the vehicle on fire, said district governor Nyaz Mohammad Sarhadi
Kandahar, 480km south of the capital Kabul, is the birthplace of the Taliban, and their current stronghold in the country.
Despite the presence of more than 130,000 foreign troops, violence in Afghanistan is at its worst since the start of the war 10 years ago, according to the United Nations.
In August, Taliban suicide bombers killed at least 22 people in an attack on the Parwan provincial governor's compound, and in September fighters launched a 20-hour assault on the US embassy in Kabul, killing more than a dozen people.