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Deadly Siege Of Afghan Court Complex Ends

  • RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan

Afghan officials say at least 10 people were killed when Taliban militants wearing military uniforms mounted a six-hour siege on a court complex on April 9.

The attack took place in Mazar-i Sharif, the capital of the relatively peaceful province of Balkh in the country's north.

Police and eyewitnesses said four militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons entered the complex, blowing up the compound entrance with a hand grenade and killing a security guard.

Police quickly called in reinforcements, who besieged the compound and started exchanging gunfire with the attackers, a police spokesman said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Hospital officials said five members of security forces and five civilians were killed in the raid, and more than 60 people, including women and children were injured.

The head of the provincial appeals court, several officials, and police officers were also injured in the attack, local media reported.

Police said all the assailants were killed.

The compound includes a provincial appeals court, the provincial office of the attorney general, and other government offices.

Officials said provincial governor Ata Muhammad Noor was at the site and led the military operation against the militants.

The U.S. embassy in Kabul condemned the raid in Mazar-i Sharif as a "horrific attack."

It "reminds us of the risks that police, prosecutors, and judges face in going about their daily work pursuing impartial justice and rule of law in Afghanistan," the embassy said in a statement.

Bike Bomb

In a separate incident on April 9, at least 10 people were injured when a bomb placed on a bicycle went off in the eastern province of Khost, the Interior Ministry said.

Afghanistan's security forces are battling the Taliban largely alone following the withdrawal of foreign combat troops last year.

The new NATO-led mission, Resolute Support -- launched on January 1 -- is focused on training of the Afghan security forces.

The mission involves some 12,000 troops, including 9,800 U.S. soldiers.

President Barack Obama has said the United States will keep the current level of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan by the end of 2015, and that the last American troops will leave Afghanistan at the end of 2016.

The Taliban has warned the announcement would damage any prospects of peace talks.

With reporting by AFP
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