Taliban Attack Afghan Gov't Offices

Taliban Attack Afghan Gov't Offices

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The Taliban attacked government offices early Wednesday in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province, where the insurgents have been battling government forces for months.

Omar Zwak, spokesman for Helmand's governor, said gunmen attacked the police headquarters and intelligence agency offices in Gereshk. He said security forces repelled the attack on the intelligence facility.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, in which suicide bombers struck inside the police compound.

Jabbar Karaman, a lawmaker appointed by President Ashraf Ghani to investigate the situation in Helmand, said that seven attackers had been killed in the ongoing gunfight with police, as well as three police officers, with an unknown number of civilians caught in the crossfire.

Earlier reports said four attackers were involved, but the number appears to be much higher.

Fighting has raged across Helmand, a major poppy-growing region, for the past three months, with the insurgents battling government forces and fighting among themselves for control of smuggling routes. U.S. and British forces saw heavy fighting in Helmand at the height of the 15-year war.

Since the international combat mission drew down in 2014, the Taliban have spread their fight across most of the country, forcing Afghan forces plagued by corruption and incompetence to spread their own assets thin.

U.S. and Afghan military officials have said that the army in Helmand is being rebuilt so that it can take the fight to the Taliban, something it has not been able to do throughout the war.

(KA)