Oct 162017

Afghan officials say two separate suicide and gun attacks on government forces have left at least 71 people dead.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the October 17 assault on a police compound in the southeastern city of Gardez, capital of Paktia Province bordering Pakistan, in which at least 41 people were killed, including the provincial police chief, and more than 150 others wounded.

Thirty people, including police officers and civilians, were also reported killed and 10 others wounded in an attack blamed on the Taliban in the neighboring province of Ghazni.

The Interior Ministry said that two suicide bombers detonated cars filled with explosives outside the provincial police headquarters and its attached training center in Gardez, before gunmen launched an assault against the facilities.

The ministry said the hourslong fighting ended when all five gunmen were killed by security forces.

However, a senior police official said there were 11 attackers in total, a figure that Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah cited in an interview with RFE/RL.

“Preliminary information shows that they used four car-bombs in this attack, and 11 suicide attackers were involved in it,” Abdullah said after arriving in Patakia Province with acting Interior Minister Wais Barmak.

Abdullah pledged a “complete investigation into this attack” and said the “enemy of Afghanistan is using all forms of crimes, terror, and brutality.”

Deputy Interior Minister Murad Ali Murad said that the dead included 21 police officers, including provincial police chief Toryal Abdiani, and 20 civilians.

Local health official Hedayatullah Hameedi said that the casualties included “women, students, and police.”

Security officials told RFE/RL that provincial police chief Toryal Abdiani was among the dead.

In Ghazni Province, officials said Taliban militants detonated an explosives-laden vehicle near a security compound in Andar district early on October 17 while others stormed the building.

Provincial council member Amanullah Kamran said the attack targeted the premises of the district governor and police headquarters.

Late on October 16, a suspected U.S. drone strike in Pakistan’s northwestern Kurram tribal area, part of which borders Paktia, killed 20 militants, intelligence officials said.

Officials said the site was a main center in the area for the Haqqani network, a group that has ties to the Afghan Taliban.

The Western-backed government in Kabul is struggling to beat back insurgents in the wake of the exit of most NATO forces in 2014.

U.S. President Donald Trump recently unveiled a strategy to try to defeat the militants, and officials said more than 3,000 additional U.S. troops are being sent to Afghanistan to reinforce the 11,000 already stationed there.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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