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Afghan insurgents storm police outpost, kill 3 officers

The four attackers also die. The assault in the city of Khost continues a pattern of strikes targeting symbols of government authority.

May 22, 2011|By Laura King | Los Angeles Times
  • U.S. soldiers fire on Taliban insurgents who took over a government building in Khost province.
U.S. soldiers fire on Taliban insurgents who took over a government building… (Reuters )

KABUL, Afghanistan — In what has become a near-daily drumbeat of insurgent attacks on Afghan government and security installations, a team of gunmen and bombers on Sunday stormed a police outpost in an eastern city, killing three police officers. The four assailants died as well, officials said.

The early-morning onslaught in the city of Khost typified a pattern of insurgent strikes that has taken hold as this spring "fighting season" gathers force -- a coordinated assault on a site that symbolizes government authority.

In Sunday's attack, the target was a relatively humble one: a compound belonging to the traffic police. A day earlier, a suicide bomber hit the country's largest military hospital in the capital, Kabul, killing six medical trainees.

Khost, which lies not far from the Pakistan border, is a frequent attack site despite the presence of a large NATO base on its outskirts. Several insurgent groups are active in the area, including the Taliban and the Haqqani network, which is based in Pakistan. The Taliban claimed responsibility for Sunday's strike.

The Khost provincial police chief, Gen. Abdul Hakim Hisaqzai, said the attack, which set off a firefight lasting several hours, was apparently intended to be even larger in scale. Police recovered a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and an explosives-laden vehicle that apparently failed to detonate, he said.

At one point, the attackers used the police building's upper floors to fire on arriving government reinforcements, officials said. Hisaqzai said authorities were investigating how the attackers managed to breach the compound's defenses so quickly.

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