Suicide attackers storm office in Afghan east, 7 killed

KHOST, Afghanistan Tue Jan 10, 2012 8:54am EST

Afghans inspect the site of an explosion in Jalalabad province January 10, 2012. At least six people were wounded including two policemen as result of an explosion, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. REUTERS/Parwiz

Afghans inspect the site of an explosion in Jalalabad province January 10, 2012. At least six people were wounded including two policemen as result of an explosion, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Credit: Reuters/Parwiz

KHOST, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Three suicide attackers stormed a government building in Afghanistan's volatile east on Tuesday, sparking a six-hour gun battle with security forces in which four government employees and three policemen were killed, authorities said.

Two police officers and one civilian were also wounded during the attack on the government communications office in Sharan, the provincial capital of Paktika province, which shares a porous and ill-defined border with Pakistan.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault in an emailed statement from spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

The insurgents, who had small explosives strapped to their bodies and carried grenade launchers, set fire to part of the communications office near the home of the Paktika governor Mohebullah Samim.

Samim had earlier put the number of the bombers at four but the interior ministry said there were three attackers.

Troops from NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were providing air support, Samim said.

Eastern Afghanistan has seen increased violence in recent years, with insurgents taking advantage of the steep, often forested terrain and the Pakistani border to launch attacks and then slip beyond the reach of NATO and Afghan troops.

Despite the presence of more than 100,000 foreign troops, violence across Afghanistan remains at its worst levels since the Taliban were toppled by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001, according to the United Nations.

(Reporting by Elyas Wahdat; Editing by Yoko Nishikawa)