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Suicide Bombers Hit Afghan Southeast, Killing Four


KHOST, Afghanistan (Reuters) -- Suicide bombers killed two police and two intelligence officers when they attacked two government offices in the southeastern Afghan town of Khost, a police officer said.

One bomber targeted the department for counternarcotics, the officer said. The second detonated explosives inside the main intelligence headquarters a few hundred meters away, Guldad said.

"The bomber had managed to get inside the intelligence department by wearing the agency's uniform," he said.

Gunfire also erupted inside the building, a source among the officials said.

Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the strikes, saying that three members of the Islamist militant group were involved.

Afghan and foreign troops had cordoned off the area and at least one helicopter belonging to foreign troops was hovering overhead, residents said.

It was not clear whether foreign troops were hit in either of the attacks.

A surge of violence in Afghanistan this year has marked the bloodiest period since the Taliban's removal in 2001. The violence has raised fears about Afghanistan's stability despite an increase in the number of foreign troops.

Regrouping in 2005, the Al-Qaeda-backed Taliban have carried out a number of high-profile attacks this year, including several in the capital, Kabul.

These included an assassination plot against President Hamid Karzai during a military parade near his palace. Officials say some members of the security forces helped the insurgents in that incident and in several other major attacks.

Prison Search

Separately, authorities began a search of two prison cells where Taliban prisoners are held in the key Pul-i-Charkhi jail on the eastern outskirts of Kabul, the deputy justice minister said.

The aim of the search was to disarm prisoners possibly holding guns or knives, Mohammad Qasim Hashimzai told Reuters.

The prison has been the scene of a series of bloody riots in recent years. The latest search was the second this year.

In a major attack several months ago, Taliban fighters freed several hundred of their jailed comrades along with many other prisoners in the southern province of Kandahar.

A prisoner from the jail in Kabul telephoned Reuters to say that Afghan forces had opened fire during the operation and that there were some casualties among the inmates.

The sound of gunfire could be heard in the background. Hashimzai said he was not aware force had been used or if casualties had been reported.