Afghan officials say a suicide bomb attack has killed seven civilians outside a U.S. military base in the eastern part of the country.

A provincial official said Wednesday's bomb blast occurred at a gate where laborers were waiting to enter the base on the outskirts of the city of Khost.  The Afghan interior ministry said 21 people were wounded in the attack.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military said militants fired rockets at bases in southeastern Paktika province.  In response, U.S. forces launched air strikes that killed six insurgents and two civilians, as well as injuring four other civilians.

A major point of contention between Afghanistan and the United States are U.S. air strikes on suspected militant targets.  Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said they are not acceptable and undermine coalition forces with the local populace because of civilian casualties.

On Tuesday, 11 suicide bombers targeted government buildings in  Khost, killing at least nine people in the blasts and the gunbattles that followed.

Local officials said another 16 people were wounded when attackers struck the governor's office and a municipal building, taking several hostages.

U.S. and Afghan forces later stormed the building, where they killed three insurgents and freed the hostages.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying it sent 30 attackers, including suicide bombers, to Khost, where a large U.S. military base is located.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.