Afghan police kill burqa bombers

By Time of article published Jul 21, 2009

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By Jason Straziuso

Kabul - Militants attacked several government centres in an eastern Afghan city on Tuesday in a complex attack that has become a signature of major Taliban assaults. Police shot and killed two militant suicide bombers hiding under women's burqas, officials said.

A Taliban spokesman claimed that 15 militants - all in suicide vests -attacked government centres in the eastern city of Gardez just before 11am (0630GMT). It wasn't clear how many militants took part, but officials said the governor's compound, the city's intelligence unit and a police department had all been attacked.

Police shot and killed two suicide bombers in women's burqas inside the city, said Interior Ministry spokesperson Zemeri Bashary. He had no other immediate information.

US forces responded to the attacks but it wasn't immediately clear if they were involved in any fighting, said spokesperson Captain Elizabeth Mathias. She said militants attacked the governor's compound with guns and other weapons.

The Taliban spokesperson, Zabiullah Mujahid, claimed in a phone call to The Associated Press that 15 militants in suicide vests launched the attack in Gardez. He said they were carrying AK-47 assault rifles and rockets.

A Western official in Kabul said the city's intelligence and police departments had also been attacked. He spoke on condition he wasn't identified because he wasn't authorised to release the information.

Taliban militants over the last year have launched several complex attacks, which usually involve multiple suicide bombers and additional gunmen. They have been launched in Kabul, the capital, and Kandahar, the Taliban's spiritual birthplace. Analysts say al-Qaeda fighters provide the training that help militants here to carry out such attacks.

The latest complex attack took place in May in the eastern city of Khost, when 11 Taliban suicide bombers struck government buildings, sparking gunbattles with US and Afghan forces. Twenty people died in the attacks and three American troops were wounded.

Khost, which is 70 kilometres east of Gardez, is a key area of operation for militants associated with the insurgent network run by Sirajuddin Haqqani.

Mujahid also claimed a second complex attack had been launched in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Tuesday.

Mohamamd Ayub Salangi, provincial police chief of Nangarhar, said two suicide attackers on a motorbike carrying AK-47s and a rocket propelled grenade were killed along with a police officer. - Sapa-AP

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