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Attack On Southern Afghan Government Compound Kills At Least 19

Afghan journalist Ahmad Omaid Khpalwak was one of those killed in the attack.
Suicide bombers armed with guns killed at least 19 people and wounded another 35 in southern Afghanistan when they attacked government buildings in Tarin Kot, the capital of Oruzgan Province.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said Taliban fighters carried out the attacks. He claimed government officials were among the dead.

Ahmadi said six suicide bombers entered the buildings -- with several of them detonating their explosives while others fought a gun battle against Afghan police.

Residents of Tarin Kot say the heard at least seven explosions since the fighting began at about noon. It was not immediately clear how many of those blasts were caused by suicide bombers.

Afghan Interior Ministry General Mohammad Salem Ehsas told RFE/RL that the attacks were coordinated to strike at several different government buildings in Tarin Kot.

"One was the building for [state-run] radio and television in Oruzgan, and another one was the office of the deputy governor of Oruzgan," Ehsas said.

"There were two suicide bombers in each of those places -- so four people entered those building. They were surrounded by police and two have been killed."

Khan Agha Nehakhil, head of Oruzgan's health department, said security forces and civilians, including one journalist, were among the dead.

An Afghan reporter who worked for the BBC and for the Afghan news agency Pajhwok, 25-year-old Ahmad Omaid Khpalwak, was among those killed at the radio and TV building.

Suicide bombers also stormed a police building and headquarters for security of the highways.

Growing Violence

The attack was the deadliest in southern Afghanistan in nearly six months. It follows the recent killing of several key regional leaders who had ties to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

They include the former governor of Oruzgan, who was gunned down in his Kabul home, and Karzai's half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, who was a powerful powerbroker in southern Afghanistan and the head of the Kandahar Provincial Council.

On July 27, a suicide bomber who hid explosives in his turban also killed the mayor of Kandahar.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for all of those attacks, which come at a critical juncture in the nearly 10-year war against Taliban-led insurgents.

Last week, NATO handed over responsibility for security operations to Afghan forces in seven different parts of the country.

Thousands of U.S. surge troops are preparing to return home and other Western countries in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force have announced limited withdrawals of their soldiers.

All foreign combat forces are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 -- provided security conditions on the ground allow their withdrawal.

written by Ron Synovitz, with material from RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan and Radio Mashaal and news agencies
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