Afghan government compound under siege

Gunmen wearing suicide vests engaged in a shootout with Afghan security forces, killing five and injuring another six

Afghan police and NATO troops fire on attackers at the Afghan traffic police headquarters in Khost province [AFP]

Gunmen wearing suicide vests have stormed a government compound in eastern Afghanistan and engaged in a shootout with security forces.
At least five people, including three policemen, were killed on Sunday morning in the city of Khost, and the ongoing fighting has injured at least six others.
According to officials, Afghan security forces surrounded the compound but held off launching a full assault, fearing the attackers may detonate their suicide vests.
General Raz Mohammad Oryakhail, the army commander for Khost province said that three or four men armed with assault rifles and wearing explosives strapped to their bodies shot their way into a compound that houses the traffic department on the edge of Khost city shortly after dawn.
They killed a police guard as they entered and then took over the second floor of the building, from which they shot down at police and soldiers outside.
An AFP news agency reporter at the scene said that the intensity of the exchanges of fire had lessened but there were still sporadic gunshots. He said there was smoke coming from the building.
No explosion has been heard so far to indicate the detonation of explosives but both Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai, Khost provincial police chief, and Mubariz Zadran, the provincial governor’s spokesman, said that the attackers were believed to be suicide bombers.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack which came a day after a Taliban suicide bomber infiltrated the capital’s main military hospital and killed at least six Afghan medical students.

There have been a string of recent attacks in Afghanistan by Taliban who have managed to penetrate supposedly secure official premises.

Last month, three people died when an attacker got inside the defence ministry in Kabul and the police chief of Kandahar province was killed by his bodyguard.

Afghanistan’s security forces are frequently targeted by the Taliban and other militants.

Afghan forces are set to take increasing responsibility for security as foreign combat troops withdraw in a process starting from July but not due to be completed until 2014.

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