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Separately, Taliban militants attacked a small U.S. base in southern Afghanistan early yesterday for the second time in a week, and the U.S.-led coalition said the insurgents could be probing for intelligence for a future attempt to overrun the outpost.

Four militants were killed during the attack on Firebase Anaconda, the coalition said. The fighters’ actions “could possibly be a rehearsal for a much bigger attack, possibly an attempt to completely overrun the post,” the coalition said.

“The insurgents are paying a high price to test our response to attacks on our bases,” said Army Capt. Vanessa R. Bowman, a coalition spokeswoman. “Though direct attacks are an unorthodox method for Taliban fighters, we remain prepared to fight them in any way they choose, though we find they are regularly unprepared for our methods of combat.”

A group of 75 Taliban attacked Anaconda on Tuesday from three sides, a rare frontal assault that left 23 militants dead. Taliban militants usually shun head-on fights, preferring instead to attack foreign forces with suicide blasts and roadside bombs.