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breaking news: suicide bombers storm govt offices in Afghan south

Three bombers had already detonated their explosives and police were engaged in a gun battle with the remaining attackers, Interior Ministry spokesman, Sediq Sediqi, said.

KABUL: Suicide bombers armed with guns attacked at least two government buildings in the capital of Afghanistan’s volatile southern Uruzgan province on Thursday, killing 17 people and wounding 35, officials said.

Up to six suicide bombers had stormed the provincial governor’s compound and the police chief’s compound in Tirin Kot, capital of Uruzgan located north of Kandahar, Interior Ministry spokesman, Sediq Sediqi, said.

Three bombers had already detonated their explosives and police were engaged in a gun battle with the remaining attackers, he said.

“Three people from the side of government, including one policeman, have been killed and 20 more have been wounded,” said Ghulam Sakhi Kargar, spokesman for the health ministry in Kabul.

Security and government officials in Uruzgan could not be immediately reached for comment.

Engineer Farid, head of regional state television channel, Uruzgan TV, said he had heard one blast inside the channel’s offices and that two suicide bombers had entered the building, which is located around 100 metres from the governor’s compound.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said six militants were involved.

The attacks come only a day after a suicide bomber killed the mayor of Kandahar city, the latest in a string of assassinations of high-profile government figures and allies of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

On July 17, gunmen killed a former governor of Uruzgan and close adviser of Karzai in his home in the Afghan capital, Kabul. A lawmaker from the same province, who was visiting Jan Mohammad Khan, was also killed in the attack.

That attack came only days after the killing of Ahmad Wali Karzai, a half-brother of the president and one of the most powerful and controversial men in southern Afghanistan.

The killings have left a power vacuum in the south of the country that could weaken the president’s hold on an area that has long been a Taliban stronghold.

Uruzgan is a largely rural and mountainous province located north of Kandahar and is the birthplace of the reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

Violence in Afghanistan is at its worst since US-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taliban government in late 2001, with high foreign troop deaths and civilian casualties at record levels.

Insurgents have also stepped up an effective assassination campaign targeting Afghan government officials. More than half of all targeted killings in Afghanistan between April and June were carried out in Kandahar, according to a UN report.


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