Six Taliban suicide attackers have launched an assault on a joint Afghan-NATO base in the east of Afghanistan, killing one NATO soldier during a prolonged firefight, officials said.

One attacker in an explosives-packed vehicle blew himself up on Saturday at the entrance of the base in Nangarhar province, and five other fighters were shot as they tried to storm the facility.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed one fatality in a suicide attack in the east of the country, without giving further details.

Afghan and Western officials said the attack took place in Ghani Khil district, a volatile area on the main highway from Kabul to neighbouring Pakistan, where many Taliban fighters seek shelter.

"Around 8:00 am, a suicide bomber detonated himself and the other five were gunned down by Afghan security forces. Their bodies lie at the scene," Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, spokesman for the Nangarhar governor, told AFP news agency.

In an emailed statement to the media, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack.

Nangarhar province has seen a deteriorating security situation in the past three years, which given its proximity to Kabul and the fact that Jalalabad is one of the five largest cities in the country could be dangerous.

This year will see the end of the US-led NATO combat mission in Afghanistan as 85,000 foreign troops pull out, though a long-delayed security deal could allow several thousand US soldiers to remain to train and advise local security forces.

Source: Al Jazeera