Militants attack Afghan ministry with bomb, grenades and gunfire

Saul Bowman
June 2, 2018

Several militants dressed in US military uniforms opened fire outside the Afghan Interior Ministry on Wednesday, before being fatally shot by security forces, the top USA commander in the country said.

An Afghan official says loud explosions have rocked the area around the Interior Ministry and that militants are exchanging fire with security forces. Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said one policeman was killed and five were wounded.

Afghan officials told The Associated Press that at least seven attackers were killed after a shootout with security forces inside the compound. The statement called it an "immersion attack" on the ministry in Kabul.

At least 50 senior Taliban commanders were killed in a U.S. artillery strike in Afghanistan's southern province of Helmand, a USA military spokesman said on Wednesday.

Another four policemen and eight civilians, including two children, were wounded in the Logar attack early on Wednesday, said Shah Poor Ahmadzai, spokesman for the provincial police chief.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in the Afghan capital that targeted the Interior Ministry building in Kabul.

The Taliban have not officially responded, but deadly attacks have proliferated since then, particularly in Kabul, which has become the most risky place in the country for civilians.

Also on Wednesday a vehicle bomb in the southern city of Kandahar went off inside a garage where Afghan army vehicles were being repaired, killing three mechanics and wounding 13 people, governor's spokesman Daud Ahmadi said.

The 20 percent of the attacks in which the Taliban were successful in taking five district centers have been retaken by Afghan forces, the commander said, adding some were retaken in anywhere from hours to 10 days.

In the northern province of Takhar, Taliban fighters in the Dasht-e Qala district centre captured the governor's compound and police headquarters on Wednesday but heavy fighting was continuing, police spokesman Khalil Aseer said.

Security forces are there to assess the situation.

Attacks in recent months claimed by either Taliban or Islamic State fighters have killed scores in Kabul and elsewhere, demonstrating the Taliban's capability to carry out strikes even in the heart of the country's capital. He said all coalition troops had been accounted for after the attack.

The Taliban claimed the attacks in both provinces. "The attackers were not able to enter the ministry".

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