Taliban Attack Government Buildings South of Kabul
The latest offensive by the Taliban on Afghanistan's government infrastructure has taken place in a province adjacent to the national capital. Authorities say in the extended battle in Logar province at least two policemen and four of the assailants died.
Taliban insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades and a suicide bomber blew himself up as part of a mid-day attack on a provincial government compound, just a one-hour drive south of the national capital.
The NATO-led international force in Afghanistan sent troops to the scene to aid Afghan soldiers and police.
Authorities say they quickly killed two of the gunmen, but two others continued to fire machine guns in the extended battle in Pul-i-Alam, 50 kilometers from Kabul.
Witnesses say U.S. military helicopters were part of the response force, and one aircraft fired a rocket into a multi-story building still under construction which the insurgents had seized, used to launch their attack and had rigged with explosives.
Interior Ministry spokesman Zamary Bashary tells VOA News authorities had been expecting the government center of Logar province to be targeted by the Taliban.
Bashary says this was no surprise and security measures are in place to try to prevent such attacks. He adds authorities are working to fill security gaps to better defend against such incidents in the future.
The Afghan forces are now facing a Taliban that appears to be moving beyond their traditional strongholds in the southern part of the country. The assault in Logar follows similar attacks in two other provinces last month.
The latest Taliban violence occurred 10 days before Afghanistan is set to go to the polls. The insurgents have vowed to disrupt the presidential election and have warned people not to vote.
President Hamid Karzai, who unveiled his re-election campaign platform Monday, said if he is victorious he will invite the Taliban and other militants to a grand tribal council on the condition they first stop fighting the government.