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Taliban Attacks Western Afghan Courthouse, Killing At Least 53


Afghan officials say at least 53 people have been killed and dozens more injured during an attack by the Taliban in western Afghanistan.

Authorities in Farah Province say a seven-hour gunbattle with security forces erupted on April 3 after a group of suicide attackers detonated a bomb outside a provincial court in Farah city, near the Iranian border.

Interior Ministry deputy spokesman Najib Danish told the AFP news agency that 34 civilians, six soldiers, and four policemen were killed, while some 91 people, mostly civilians, were injured.

He said that all nine of the Taliban attackers were killed as well.

Authorities say that the attack took place while 13 Taliban prisoners were in court, but none of the inmates escaped. But a doctor at a local hospital said that one prisoner was being treated for his wounds.

Farah Province Governor Mohammad Akram Khpalwak told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that the attackers used an Afghan military truck and were wearing Afghan National Army uniforms as they stormed the small-town courthouse.

"We had some security measures in place and we have the capacity to confront meticulously planned deadly attacks. But preventing such attacks usually comes with a lot of casualties," Khpalwak said.

"Although our security arrangements were tight, unfortunately the enemy attacked places visited by ordinary people."

Khpalwak said that the attack during peak office hours caused so many civilian casualties because many litigants were waiting for their cases to be heard in court.

A Taliban spokesman took responsibility for the attack. The insurgents described it as a carefully prepared operation.

The death toll in the Farah attack was the highest in a single attack in Afghanistan for more than two years. Some 80 people were killed in an attack on a Shi'ite Muslim shrine in December 2011.

With reporting by AFP, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, AP, and Reuters
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