Afghan gunmen kill two guards in attack on governor

Two gunmen hiding pistols in their shoes snuck inside a provincial governor's high-security compound in southern Afghanistan Saturday, and killed two guards in a fierce gun battle.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying their main target was the provincial Governor Tooryalai Weesa.

"After killing two bodyguards, the attackers seized their rifles and opened fire on other bodyguards, injuring one," Weesa told AFP, confirming that he was not hurt in the incident.

The attackers were eventually killed, Kandahar government spokesman Zalmay Ayobi told AFP. Security forces also found a vehicle laden with explosives abandoned outside the compound.

The insurgents somehow made it through the tight security at the compound with pistols tucked in their sandals, Weesa said, and the gun fight that ensued lasted for about 30 minutes before the attackers were subdued.

Kandahar province is the heartland of hardline Taliban insurgents and has been one of the hardest hit in 10 years of war in which NATO troops are supporting the government of President Hamid Karzai.

Condemning the attack, Weesa said the Taliban were resorting to "new ways and tactics to hurt the government and the people" but reiterated that "they will not succeed".

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until they were toppled in a 2001 US-led invasion for refusing to hand-over Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Since then, remnants of the regime have orchestrated an increasingly deadly insurgency focused on suicide attacks and roadside bombing that frequently miss their military targets and cause civilian casualties.

The attack on governor's compound comes as the interior ministry reported the death of ten Afghan policemen after a roadside bomb ripped through their patrol vehicle in central Afghanistan on Friday.

On April 15, squads of suicide attackers took up positions in the nation's capital Kabul, firing on embassies, government buildings and foreign military bases for 18 hours before they were all killed.

Afghan officials and US Ambassador in Kabul blamed the Pakistanis-based Haqqani Network, a close ally of the Taliban for the attacks on Kabul, considered to have been the biggest assault on the capital in 10 years of war.

Apart from Kabul, the eastern capitals of Paktia, Logar and Nangarhar provinces also came under attack, with a total of 51 people, including 36 militants, killed.

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