May 26, 2013
Suicide bombers, gunmen kill 19 in central Afghanistan
Taliban suicide bombers and gunmen killed at least 19 people during an attack on a governor's compound in central Afghanistan today, officials said, with gunbattles and several blasts heard before the assault was put down.
A witness and others nearby reported hearing at least five explosions as Afghan security forces inside the compound of Parwan governor Abdul Basir Salangi fought back.
A statement by Afghanistan's Interior Ministry said 19 people, including five police, were killed and 37 wounded.
"So far we have received 16 bodies and 29 have been injured," Mohammad Asif, a doctor at the Parwan provincial hospital, told reporters. "Most of the bodies are government employees."
Parwan lies about an hour's drive northwest of the capital, Kabul, another worrying sign of the reach of the Taliban and other insurgents.
Eight days ago, a rocket-propelled grenade fired by the Taliban brought down a NATO helicopter in another central Afghan province near Kabul, killing 30 US troops and eight Afghans in the worst single incident for foreign forces in 10 years of war.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Parwan attack. Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Islamist group, said the assault began when a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives at the gate of the compound.
He said five other bombers made it inside the compound, where he claimed US officials were taking part in a meeting. "Many people were killed, including Americans, but we still don't have the exact information," Mujahid said by telephone from an undisclosed location.
The Taliban often exaggerate incidents involving Afghan government targets or foreign troops. Sharafuddin Rahimi, an adviser to the Parwan police chief, said a meeting involving the police chief, the governor "and some foreign advisers" was under way when the attack was launched but said the attackers did not reach the meeting room.
He said one of the police chief's bodyguards was among those killed, as well as women and children.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said some of its troops had been in the vicinity but were not inside the compound when the attack took place. There were no reports of ISAF casualties, a spokesman for the coalition said.
ISAF provided helicopter support while the attack was quelled, he said. In a statement from the presidential palace, Afghan President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the Parwan attack.