Six Die in Taliban Attack on Afghan Police Center


Six members of Afghanistan's security services died in a Taliban attack on a police center near the southern city of Kandahar, officials said Thursday, raising the death toll from three.

The attack was the latest in a series of assaults on Western-backed security forces in the de facto capital of southern Afghanistan and the birthplace of the Taliban militia leading a nearly 10-year insurgency against U.S.-led troops.

"Some armed men have entered a police building, a training facility. They have been exchanging fire with police," provincial police chief Khan Mohammad Mujahid told Agence France Presse.

Major Randy Taylor, a spokesman for the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), told AFP that two Afghan intelligence agents and a local police officer were killed, while eight other personnel were wounded.

He said the attackers failed to gain access to the complex, despite trying to smuggle in a car bomb in a vehicle disguised as an ambulance.

International forces provided assistance in the operation against the insurgents but suffered no casualties, he added.

An AFP reporter earlier saw ambulances evacuating wounded people from the scene, where he heard two loud explosions and gunshots.

A local hospital said it had so far received 14 wounded, including an 11-year-old boy, and one dead.

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said several attackers were armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

Zalmai Ayoubi, a spokesman for the Kandahar governor's office, said three attackers were killed in the standoff. The complex is also used as an army and police recruitment center, the police chief said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault. Spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi told AFP that four of their fighters had entered the police center, saying it was "currently on fire and there is a lot of smoke from the compound".

The attack is the latest to target Afghanistan's roughly 120,000-strong police, who will play a growing role in the country's security as international troops start a limited withdrawal from seven more peaceful areas in July.

Last month, the police chief of the northern province of Kunduz was killed by a suicide bombing also claimed by the Taliban.

Kandahar has seen a number of insurgent attacks on police in recent months, including in February, when 19 people were killed in a string of attacks focused on the city's police headquarters claimed by the Taliban.

NATO-led forces say the area is now safer following intense fighting in recent months but police and officials are still regularly targeted.