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A NATO military vehicle on the streets of Kandahar yesterday. AP Photo/Allauddin Khan

Taliban targets Afghan government offices in attack on key city

The militant group says today’s attacks – in the same city where hundreds of prisoners staged a jailbreak last month – were aimed at taking control of Kandahar.

THE TALIBAN SAYS an attack on Afghan government installations in the key city of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan is aimed at seizing control of the city.

It was the latest in a series of strikes by the Taliban insurgency at high-profile government installations.

Today’s assault casts doubt on how successful the US-led coalition has been in its nearly year-long military campaign to restore security and bring stability to the former Taliban stronghold.

The attack started around midday and gunfire was still ringing through Kandahar more than five hours later as military helicopters fired from overhead.

Government and hospital officials confirmed that the governor’s compound, the mayor’s office and the intelligence agency offices had all been attacked, along with a number of police stations.

At least 24 wounded had been brought to the main city hospital by afternoon — 14 civilians and 10 police, according to an emergency room doctor who only gave one name, Irsan.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi says more than 100 militants have flooded the city, including men freed in a bold prison break last month.

Shopkeepers throughout the city closed down their stores and the streets emptied of people and cars as Kandahar residents bunkered down to wait out the fight. Police blocked journalists from getting near the buildings under assault. Military helicopters hovered overhead.

“Our attack was against every place where government officials or security forces are found,” Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi told the AP over the telephone.

The Taliban appear determined to prove their strength following a winter of being beaten back by international and Afghan troops, who destroyed key weapons caches as they moved in.

The attack comes a day after the Taliban issued a statement saying that Osama bin Laden’s death would boost the morale of the insurgency and threatening that they would show their strength.

- AP

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