KABUL - A rare rocket attack on the main U.S. base in Afghanistan early yesterday killed two U.S. troops and wounded six other Americans, including two civilians, officials said.

Bagram Air Base, which lies 25 miles northeast of Kabul, is surrounded by high mountains and long stretches of desert from which militants could fire rockets. But such attacks, particularly lethal ones, are relatively rare.

Two U.S. troops died and six Americans were wounded, including four GIs and two civilians, said Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker, a U.S. military spokeswoman.

The top government official in Bagram, Kabir Ahmad, said several rockets were fired at the base early yesterday. A spokesman with NATO's International Security Assistance Force said that three rounds landed inside Bagram and one landed outside.

The wounded personnel were taken to the main hospital on Bagram for treatment. ISAF said it wasn't known if any Afghan civilians living near the base were harmed in the attack.

It wasn't immediately clear if New York Times reporter David S. Rohde was at Bagram yesterday when the rockets hit.

Rohde, once a local correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer, escaped from kidnappers in Pakistan on Friday after more than seven months in captivity and was flown to Bagram on Saturday. Embassy officials then gave him an emergency passport and FBI officials were guarding him, a U.S. official said yesterday.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, claimed responsibility for the rocket attack. Mujahid also said the Taliban knew nothing of the kidnapping of Rohde.

Bagram is a sprawling Soviet-era base that houses thousands of troops, mostly from the 82nd Airborne Division. Most forces there are American, but many other countries also have troops at the base. *