Insurgents launched pre-dawn attacks yesterday on a major Nato base in eastern Afghanistan and a nearby camp where seven CIA employees were killed last year in a suicide bombing.

Nato said there were no coalition casualties and the attacks were repelled.

It said 13 insurgents were killed – four of whom were wearing suicide vests – and five captured.

The assaults on the sprawling Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost province and nearby Camp Chapman came at about 3am, just as area residents were rising for early morning prayers.

The area, about 60 miles southeast of Kabul near the border with Pakistan, is a hotbed of Taliban activity.

Afghan police said about 50 insurgents attacked using rifles, heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons, but had been repelled.

Khost provincial police chief Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai said they found the bodies of 14 militants and five others had been captured alive.

After being driven away from the bases, the insurgents approached the nearby offices of the governor and provincial police headquarters but were driven off, Ishaqzai said.

"Given the size of the enemy's force, this could have been a major catastrophe for Khost. Luckily we prevented it," he said.

Police captured a pick-up truck laden with ammunition along with a light truck packed with explosives, according to police. Bomb specialists were preparing to defuse explosives aboard the truck, which had been booby-trapped.

Nato said the dead insurgents were members of the Haqqani Network, a group with deep ties to al-Qaeda accused of launching frequent raids from Pakistan.