Taliban suicide bombers storm Afghan police HQ, killing five

* 30 more injured in gun and bomb attack launched by insurgents in Gardez city of Paktia province * Taliban claim responsibility for raid

Taliban suicide bombers storm Afghan police HQ, killing five

KABUL: Taliban attackers stormed a regional police headquarters in eastern Afghanistan Sunday, killing five officers and injuring 30 people in an assault launched by a suicide bomber.

Of the seven attackers involved, one blew himself up in a car at the entrance to clear the way for the others to rush into the building, the office of the Paktia provincial governor said in a statement announcing the end of the raid.

Four more attackers stormed the gate after the blast, with at least two quickly killed by police. The others held out against Afghan special forces that had responded to the attack, he said. Special forces killed four of the insurgents but two held out for several hours, it said, adding that nine police and 13 civilians were wounded in addition to the dead.

Doctors at the city hospital said they had received the bodies of at least five police, as well as at least 30 wounded people, including 20 civilians.

The attack on the base in the centre of the city of Gardez - part of the Taliban’s all-out assault during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramazan - was launched at 6:00 am.

The base houses both regular policemen and police special forces.

“One (attacker) blew up his vehicle at the entrance of the headquarters, opening the way for... others who opened fire on the security forces,” regional police commander, Asadullah Shirzad, told AFP.

The head of the police hospital, Dr Shir Mohammad, confirmed the five fatalities.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the raid.

“Around 6:20 this morning a martyr attack was conducted by our mujahideen against a special forces base in Gardez, tia,” he said in a statement.

“First a car bomb detonated then our mujahideen entered the building, opening fire on police.” Zabihullah Mujahid reported more than 100 police were killed and wounded. The group often exaggerates casualty numbers in attacks against government targets and security forces.

Since they launched their spring offensive in late April, the Taliban have been mounting lethal assaults on positions of the Afghan army and police, who have lost several dozen men in recent weeks.

About sixty soldiers were killed on their bases, mostly at night, in the southern province of Kandahar alone around the end of May.

Insurgent groups like the Taliban and Islamic State have launched the string of attacks across Afghanistan in recent weeks. Islamic State claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a mosque in Kabul on Thursday.

A massive truck bombing and later suicide attacks left hundreds dead and wounded at the end of May and beginning of June, raising political tensions for the Afghan government, which is struggling to combat rising violence and corruption.

The insurgents are also targeting the international coalition supporting Afghan forces.

Seven US soldiers were injured on Saturday in an insider attack by an Afghan soldier who turned his weapon on his instructors and advisers.

The Taliban did not directly claim the attack but described the soldier, who was killed, as a ‘patriot’.

On June 11, the insurgents claimed responsibility for a similar attack in which an Afghan soldier killed three US soldiers and wounded a fourth in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

Thousands of international troops remain in the country to train and assist Afghan security forces as well as carry out counter-terrorism missions.

American defense officials say in coming weeks they will decide whether to send between 3,000 to 5,000 more troops as requested by military commanders.

The Pentagon is set to announce it is sending another 4,000 US troops to the country to counter the increasingly aggressive insurgents.

US troops in Afghanistan currently number about 8,400, with another 5,000 from NATO allies. They mainly serve in a training and advisory capacity.