Suicide group storm Afghan govt building, 7 killed

Suicide group storm Afghan govt building, 7 killed
# 10 January 2012 18:24 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Three policemen and four civilians were killed when a group of suicide bombers stormed a government building in southeastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, the interior ministry said, APA reports quoting AFP.

After a siege that lasted for hours, all the bombers were killed, ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told AFP.

"There were three suicide bombers, one of them was gunned down by police, the two others detonated themselves.

"Three policemen and four civilians have been martyred, and two policemen and one civilian have been injured," he said.

The group of suicide bombers seized a building housing the directorate of communication in Sharana, the capital city of Paktika province, after killing a police guard at the gate.

Police surrounded the building and two policemen were killed in the ensuing gunbattle, a ministry statement said.

It was not immediately clear how the four civilians died.

Taliban insurgents fighting the government of President Hamid Karzai claimed responsibility for the attack.

Provincial governor Muhibullah Samim told AFP he believed the bombers had planned to target an intelligence office close to the building they had taken over.

Afghan police and intelligence operatives are regular Taliban targets, along with national and foreign military forces.

A Taliban bomb attack killed 10 Afghan police returning from a recruitment centre in the southern province of Helmand on December 29.

The victims were members of the US-funded Afghan Local Police (ALP) set up last year and touted as key to a handover of security control, which will see all foreign combat troops leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

The Taliban, who frequently use roadside bombs to attack Afghan and US-led NATO troops, also claimed responsibility for that attack.

There are around 130,000 international troops, mainly from the United States, in Afghanistan working with government forces to combat the insurgency.

Paktika province, which borders Pakistan, is one of the main strongholds of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network and one of the main routes for militant infiltration into Afghanistan from sanctuaries across the border.

The United States announced last year that it would focus its military operations towards the eastern provinces, where Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants slipped out of reach of a US-led invading force a decade ago.

The Taliban announced last week that it planned to set up a political office in Qatar, widely seen as a move towards peace negotiations with Washington and its Western allies.

But the fighting continues, with four Afghan National Army soldiers killed in a Taliban mortar attack in Kunar province Tuesday, provincial spokesman Wasefullah Wasefi told AFP.

"At around 1:00 pm today, several mortars fired by the insurgents hit a joint ANA and foreign troop base in Asad Abad city killing four ANA soldiers and wounding nine soldiers and a civilian," he said.