Kandahar: Suicide bombers struck inside Afghanistan`s Kandahar city on Monday where US forces plan a major offensive this year, and protesters rallied against the latest report of civilian deaths by NATO troops.
The attack was the second big raid in weeks in the city, birthplace of the Taliban and the planned target of a major operation by NATO forces in coming months as they try to turn the tide against the Taliban in a war now more than eight years old.
In another part of Kandahar province, hundreds of protesters demonstrated against the killing of four civilians, officials said were shot by international troops, a sign of the growing tension between Afghans and foreigners in recent days.
In the attack in Kandahar, a group of three suicide bombers attempted to seize the main intelligence building in the heart of the city in a brazen daylight raid, officials said.
"They were armed with guns, hand grenades and suicide vests," President Hamid Karzai`s half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, head of Kandahar`s provincial council, said.
"One of them managed to blow himself up and the other two were gunned down. Two security officials were wounded," he said, adding the situation was under control after an exchange of fire between the security forces and the assailants.
The assailants threw a hand grenade at a school, wounding a teacher and another worker, he added.
People fled the streets in panic and scores of police and Army soldiers poured onto the city`s main streets, witnesses said.
The Taliban have staged a series of complex attacks, involving gunmen and suicide bombers who attempt to seize government buildings, in several southern cities and the capital Kabul in recent months.