Suspected Taliban fighters launch attacks on Kandahar

McClatchy NewspapersMay 7, 2011 

KABUL, Afghanistan — Suspected Taliban insurgents including suicide bombers in vehicles launched attacks in the city of Kandahar on Saturday on the provincial governor's palace, police stations and military compounds.

Two people were killed and 29 people, including police officers and women and children, were injured, the government said. Six of the attackers were killed, and one of them had a Pakistani identification card, the governor of Kandahar province, Toryalai Weesa, said in a statement.

Some of the attacks were on Afghan National Security Forces and International Security Assistance Force buildings in the city and the Arghandab River Valley, U.S.-led NATO forces said in a news release.

Afghan forces repelled attacks throughout the city, and reportedly none of the insurgents got into any of the compounds, the release said. It said initial reports indicated that more than five suicide bombers using vehicles were involved in the attacks, and that Afghan forces prevented three of them from detonating.

"This clearly was intended to be a spring offensive spectacular attack which was thwarted by Afghan National Security Forces," U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. James B. Laster, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command deputy chief of staff for joint operations said in the statement. "Afghan National Security Forces responded calmly and capably and, with limited ISAF assistance, were able to restore calm to the city."

Hekmat Kochai, a police spokesman, said seven police officers and three intelligence officers were injured.

Qayeum Pakhla, the provincial health director, said that 28 injured people had been brought to a hospital for treatment, including women and children.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was part of the spring offensive they started last week.

Qari Yusuf Ahamdi, a spokesman for the militants, said in a statement posted on their website that they "carried out massive blasts" in the governor's office and at municipal, police and intelligence buildings, "shaking up the entire city."

Afghan president Hamid Karzai, on an official visit in Turkey, condemned the attacks. Al Qaida and related terrorists suffered a heavy loss with the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 1 in Pakistan, and they "wanted to hide their defeat" from Afghan civilians and take revenge, he said in a statement.

Kandahar is the restive province in the south of Afghanistan that shares a long border with Baluchistan, a province of Pakistan where Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar other high-ranking of commanders are believed to be based. Pakistan denies that they're there.

The attacks in Kandahar on Saturday came two weeks after a jailbreak in the province in which nearly 500 prisoners, mostly Taliban fighters, escaped.

(Shukoor is a McClatchy Newspapers special correspondent.)

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