Kabul: Teams of militants assaulted the Afghan army in the north of the country and in the capital Sunday, killing at least 13 members of the security forces, officials said.
In the first major attack in Kabul for months, two insurgents strapped with explosives ambushed a bus carrying Afghan army officers to work during the morning rush hour on the outskirts of the capital, killing five and wounding nine, said Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack. The Afghan capital has been relatively peaceful in recent months aside from some scattered attacks, including suicide bombings, with few casualties.
The attackers first opened fire on the bus, and then one managed to detonate his explosives near the vehicle. Soldiers shot the second dead, Azimi said.
A witness, Hamidullah Khan, said the gunmen ambushed the bus as it was heading down Jalalabad Road, a main route into the city center.
"The army vehicles were passing this road and then the Taliban or some sort of insurgents started shooting at them," Khan said.
In northern Kunduz province, four militants stormed an Afghan army recruitment center at daybreak, with two managing to detonate their suicide vests, the Defense Ministry said in a statement. The initial assault killed three Afghan soldiers and two police officers, the ministry said.
At least one of the attackers survived and fierce fighting broke out inside the compound and the gunbattle continued for several hours.
Provincial deputy governor Hamdullah Danishi said initial reports indicated the attackers were dressed in army uniforms. Those killed all died just outside the center, he said, adding that 20 recent army recruits were also wounded in the attack.
While most of the fighting in Afghanistan has been concentrated in the south, violence has increased elsewhere in the country this year, including in the north. The Obama administration released a mostly upbeat review of the war`s progress Thursday, although it suggest tough combat will continue for years and says gains made could be reversed.
The Afghan forces, which must take over responsibility for security in the country if international troops are to pull out, are frequently targeted in attacks.
In the south of the country, a roadside bomb in the province of Kandahar blew up a passing civilian car, killing the driver and wounding four children, said Panjwai district chief Haji Baran.
Separately, a NATO service member was also killed in a bomb attack in southern Afghanistan, the international coalition said without providing further details.