KABUL (Reuters) - Insurgents in Afghanistan have killed a Georgian soldier in an attack on NATO forces near a major U.S. air base, NATO and Georgian officials said on Wednesday, a relatively rare death of a foreign soldier since most withdrew last year.
Afghan security forces have been bearing the brunt of an intensified Taliban insurgency this year, with the militants showing no sign of agreeing to peace talks to end their war against the U.S.-backed government.
The Georgian soldier was killed on Tuesday in a clash while on patrol outside the perimeter of the sprawling Bagram air base, north of the capital, Kabul. One Georgian was wounded, the Georgian military said in a statement.
The base, which is guarded by U.S. Marines and allied forces, frequently comes under militant rocket attack, though they rarely cause serious casualties.
Teams that patrol the base sometimes come under fire or are targeted with roadside bombs.
NATO did not identify any particular militant faction that it believed was responsible for the attack, though most insurgent groups fall under the broad umbrella of the Taliban.
The Georgian was the ninth foreign soldier to die in Afghanistan this year, according to NATO.
That compares with 75 foreign soldiers killed last year and 711 in 2010, the worst year for foreign forces, according to the group icasualties.org.
Several thousands Afghan policemen and soldiers have been killed this year. On Tuesday alone, at least 25 members of the Afghan army and police were killed in clashes, according to Interior Ministry data.
About 13,000 NATO troops are engaged in a two-year mission to train Afghan forces.
In addition, several thousand U.S. military personnel are involved in combat duties but details of their operations have not been disclosed.
Reporting by Jessica Donati and Margarita Antidze in Tblisi, Georgia; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Robert Birsel