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Afghanistan insurgents attack government compounds in Kandahar

At least one person is killed an 27 are wounded in fierce simultaneous attacks on the governor's compound, mayor's office and an intelligence agency. Large blasts are reported and gunfire rattles for hours through the city, which the Taliban considers its spiritual home.

May 08, 2011|By Laura King, Los Angeles Times
  • An Afghan security personnel checks a car after gunmen launched an attack on the compound of the governor of Kandahar province.
An Afghan security personnel checks a car after gunmen launched an attack… (Allauddin Khan, Associated…)

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan — Insurgent gunmen launched fierce simultaneous attacks Saturday against at least three government compounds in the troubled southern city of Kandahar, hours after the Taliban vowed to fight on in the wake of Osama Bin Laden's death.

Saturday's clash left at least one dead and 27 others injured, according to hospital officials. Gunfire rattled through the city center for hours, and witnesses reported at least two large explosions as the attackers tried to overrun the heavily fortified governor's compound, the mayor's office and the directorate of the main intelligence agency.

The multipronged strike was reminiscent of a series of attacks by insurgents last month on government installations and officials in several parts of Afghanistan. Those included two high-profile strikes in Kandahar -- the assassination of the provincial police chief and a massive jailbreak.

Kandahar, which the Taliban movement considers its spiritual home, has been a focus of months of efforts by the NATO force to establish security across Afghanistan's volatile south. The Western military last year claimed to have driven the Taliban out of key strongholds surrounding Kandahar city, but attacks like this one point to a continuing insurgent presence.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Saturday's assault, and boasted it had caused a large number of fatalities.

The strike in Kandahar was the first major Taliban attack since Bin Laden's death in a U.S. raid on Monday in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, and the first since the group announced the start of its spring offensive a week ago.

In a statement issued Friday evening, the Taliban leadership said the death of the Al Qaeda leader would not dampen their campaign to drive foreign troops out of Afghanistan. "The martyrdom of Sheikh Osama Bin Laden will give a new impetus to the current jihad against the invaders," it said.

The Taliban sheltered Al Qaeda before and after the Sept. 11 attacks, but the agendas of the two organizations have diverged somewhat over the course of the nearly 10-year conflict. Bin Laden was not believed to have played a significant role in formulating Taliban military strategy.

A special correspondent in Kandahar contributed to this report.

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