Afghan and international security force personnel patrol the site of suicide… (Noorullah Shirzada / AFP/Getty…)
KABUL, Afghanistan -- A team of eight suicide bombers stormed a police compound in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Tuesday, killing five police officers and injuring four others, a provincial police chief said.
The attack comes on the second day of Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s visit to Kabul. Kerry met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai a second time Tuesday morning after an initial sit-down upon his arrival in the Afghan capital Monday. Kerry and Karzai have been trying to tamp down tensions between the two countries in the wake of Karzai’s remarks earlier this month that the U.S. was colluding with the Taliban, a statement that infuriated officials in Washington.
The assault on the police compound occurred at about 4:45 a.m. local time in Jalalabad, a small, restive city about 75 miles east of Kabul. Two of the militants detonated their explosives-packed cars in front of the Jalalabad Quick Reaction Force headquarters, allowing the other attackers in a third car to speed into the compound, said Gen. Mohammed Sharif Amin, police chief for eastern Nangarhar province, where Jalalabad is located.
The driver detonated the explosives in that car, while the five remaining assailants stormed the compound and opened fire on police. All five attackers were killed by police during the exchange of gunfire, Amin said. It wasn’t clear whether the suicide bombers on foot were able to detonate their explosives-filled vests before they were killed by police. At least four civilians were also injured.
The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Insurgents are expected to step up attacks on Afghan and coalition forces with the onset of spring, when harsh weather subsides and insurgent bombings and assaults typically ramp up.
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Hashmat Baktash is a special correspondent in Kabul.