Militants storm govt building: Afghan officials

Gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed a govt building on the edge of Khost.

Last Updated: May 22, 2011, 20:25 PM IST

Kabul: Taliban fighters wearing suicide
bomb vests hidden under police uniforms attacked a government
building on Sunday in eastern Afghanistan, triggering an
hours-long gun-battle and killing six people, officials said.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed
responsibility for the attack in Khost province in a text
message to The Associated Press. The attack came a day after a
Taliban suicide bomber slipped inside the capital`s main
military hospital and killed at least six Afghan medical
students worrying reminders of militants` ability to
infiltrate locations thought to be secure.

In today`s attack, four men armed with assault rifles
and wearing explosives drove shortly before dawn into a
compound that houses the provincial traffic department on the
edge of Khost city, provincial Police Chief Gen Abdul Hakim
Ishaqzai said.

Security forces stopped the men, who were wearing
uniforms of the Afghan border police, only after becoming
suspicious of the civilian station wagon they drove, he said.

Guards opened fire on the attackers, but the men were
able to occupy the upper floor of the building, Ishaqzai said.

The attackers shot at Afghan security forces from their
vantage point as a fire raged through the structure. AP
Television News video showed US soldiers surrounding an outer
wall and shouting orders as Afghan troops rushed toward the
building, which was engulfed by smoke.

Two of the attackers detonated their bomb vests during
the fighting, with one bomber killing two Afghan soldiers,
said Gen Raz Mohammad Oryakhail, the army commander for Khost
province. Security forces shot the other two attackers to
death.

Three police officers and a gardener working at the
site were also killed in the attack, Ishaqzai said. Five
police officers and one civilian were wounded.

Soldiers defused more explosives found inside the
attackers` station wagon.

The police chief said the Taliban attackers could have
been stopped before taking the building had a guard`s assault
rifle not jammed. The US provided Afghan police with some of
the Hungarian-made AMD-65 rifles, which have been criticised
for their poor performance.

Meanwhile, US forces in southern Afghanistan shot a
governor`s spokesman in the foot today as he arrived to work.

Spokesman Zalmai Ayubi said US forces shot him as he arrived
at the gate of the Kandahar governor`s office for no reason.

Ayubi leaned on a cane as he spoke with reporters, his left
foot bandaged.

PTI