Taliban Storm Afghan Government Building, Killing at Least 10
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Taliban insurgents stormed a government building in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, setting off a firefight that killed 10 people, the Interior Ministry said, the latest sign of insurgent strength after a decade of war.
A statement said three attackers broke into a communications building in Sharan, the provincial capital, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Kabul.
In the ensuing firefight two of the attackers set off their suicide bomb vests, it said. In addition to the three attackers, three policemen and four employees of the Telecommunications Ministry were killed in the attack, the statement said. Two officers and a civilian were injured.
The Taliban claimed responsibility and said it involved multiple targets. In a statement emailed to journalists, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the governor's office, the provincial reconstruction team and the intelligence headquarters were all hit.
The ministry, however, said only one building was attacked.
Paktika province borders Pakistan and is one of the main routes for Taliban fighters infiltrating into eastern Afghanistan from their sanctuaries across the border. It is also one of the main strongholds of the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network, which has been blamed for a series of spectacular attacks, including suicide bombings inside Kabul.
Elsewhere, a joint Afghan and coalition force killed seven suspected insurgents and captured 30 in Balkh province, 180 miles (300 kilometers) north of Kabul. A military statement said the guerrillas used rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire to engage the security force. Caches of homemade explosives, pressure-plate bombs, weapons and ammunition were seized.
An explosion in Kunar province killed two Afghan soldiers, military spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said. Six soldiers and four civilians were also killed in the blast.
In a separate development, officials said the U.S. and NATO are continuing to reorient their supply lines toward to the so-called Northern Distribution Network through Russia and Central Asia, rather than through Pakistan, which served as the main conduit for the logistics chain in the past.
Pakistan shut down the alliance's main transit routes from the port of Karachi in November in response to a NATO air attack on a Pakistani border post that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
About 85 percent of military fuel supplies now passes through the northern route, said a U.S. official who could not be identified under standing rules. Nearly a third of other supplies that used to arrive through Pakistan are now using the alternate route.
For most of the 10-year war in Afghanistan, 90 percent of supplies shipped to the international force came through Pakistan, via the port of Karachi. Over the past three years, road and rail shipments from NATO's European members through Central Asia have expanded. Before the border incident, they accounted for more than half of all overland deliveries.
Associated Press reporters Rahim Faiez and Ahmen Massieh Neshad contributed to this report.