21 killed, Taliban claim attack on police HQ in Afghan's Kandahar | world | Hindustan Times
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21 killed, Taliban claim attack on police HQ in Afghan's Kandahar

Yousuf Ahmadi, the Taliban spokesperson claims the attack that shook the police headquaters of Kandahar in Afghanistan leaving 21 dead yesterday.

world Updated: Feb 13, 2011 08:16 IST

Yousuf Ahmadi, the Taliban spokesperson claims the attack that shook the police headquaters of Kandahar in Afghanistan leaving 21 dead on Saturday. Several heavily armed men on Saturday launched an attack on police headquarters in the volatile southern Afghan city of Kandahar, after an explosion and gunfire nearby.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying six of its men were holed up in a wedding hall over the road from the police office in the strategically vital city that is also the militants' traditional stronghold.

The chaotic scene saw attackers firing rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47 assault rifles and machine guns from the sixth floor of the wedding hall.

He later said that police had entered the building and there had been two loud explosions. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.

Zalmai Ayubi, a spokesman for the governor of Kandahar, confirmed that shots had been fired at the police headquarters.

"Zarnegar hall, which is located on the other side of the road 50 metres (yards) away from Kandahar police HQ, has been the source of the shootings on the police HQ," Ayubi said.

He also said there was an earlier explosion nearby while another blast was heard in the same area plus arms fire in other parts of the city.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Yousuf Ahmadi, said, "A team of our friends consisting of six men has entered the Zarnegar hall and have taken it under control."

He added that the team had attacked the police headquarters with heavy weaponry.

Kandahar, the biggest city in southern Afghanistan, is a traditional Taliban heartland that is hit by frequent instability despite an influx of foreign troops in a major operation against militants in recent months.

Earlier this week in Kandahar, a US customs officer died in an attack on a customs office.

In January, the deputy provincial governor Abdul Latif Ashna was killed by a suicide bomber on his way to the office.

The deputy mayor of Kandahar, Noor Ahmad Nazari, was killed in October, six months after his predecessor was assassinated, and the local police chief has faced several recent attempts on his life.

Some experts argue that success in Kandahar is key to the wider effort against the Taliban in Afghanistan because the Pashtun-dominated province, which borders Pakistan, is its traditional stronghold.

Experts argue that the insurgency could not be sustained if it was to be defeated in Kandahar province.

There are around 140,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan fighting Taliban militants, who were ousted from power by a US-led invasion in 2001 following the September 11 attacks.

Foreign soldiers are due to start a limited withdrawal from some more stable areas of Afghanistan from July ahead of a planned transition of responsibility for security to Afghan forces in 2014.