Three Taliban suicide bombers evaded tight security to attack a governor’s compound in southern Afghanistan, killing at least five police officers, authorities said.
The multi-pronged assault Saturday was the latest bold attack in Kandahar, the country’s largest southern city and the Taliban’s spiritual birthplace.
The three bombers were able to get past a first security checkpoint in the Kandahar governor’s compound, and one bomber set off his explosives at a second checkpoint, said Ahmad Wali Karzai, the president’s brother and the head of the provincial council.
The two other bombers moved deeper into the compound before police fired on them and their explosives detonated, Karzai said.
At least five police died in the attack and nine people were wounded, hospital officials said.
The Kandahar governor was not harmed, but officials were searching for a possible fourth suicide bomber, Karzai said.
A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, claimed responsibility later Saturday for the attack.
Kandahar province is the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban, the hard-line Islamic militiamen who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 and are now waging an insurgency against President Hamid Karzai’s government.
Earlier this month, four Taliban suicide bombers disguised in army uniforms detonated a car bomb and stormed a government office in Kandahar, killing 13 people.
Last summer, Taliban fighters attacked Kandahar’s prison in a multi-pronged assault that included a suicide truck bomb, a suicide bomber on foot and gunmen freeing the prisoners. About 870 prisoners escaped, including roughly 400 jailed insurgents.
Taliban fighters have made a bloody comeback in the last three years after what appeared to be an initial defeat following the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. President Barack Obama has ordered 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan this year to bolster the record 38,000 American forces already in the country.
Analysts say the Taliban are carrying out more sophisticated attacks because of their alliance and training with al-Qaida and Pakistani militants.