Militants storm Afghan court as Taliban stand trial; seven dead

HERAT, Afghanistan Wed Apr 3, 2013 6:35am EDT

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HERAT, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Five militants stormed a court in Afghanistan on Wednesday where Taliban insurgents were standing trial, killing seven people and wounding 75, officials said.

At least one of the attackers blew himself up and a gun battle between Afghan security forces and an insurgent holed up inside the court was going on in the capital of the western province of Farah, near the Iranian border, said provincial deputy governor Mohammad Younis Rasouli.

"They stormed the court as a trial was being held to convict 10 Taliban fighters," he told Reuters, adding that four civilians and three members of the security forces were killed.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message to media, spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said, adding that the insurgents standing trial had been freed in the attack.

Concerns are growing over how the 352,000-strong Afghan security forces will manage once NATO-led combat troops withdraw by the end of next year.

(Reporting by Sharaf Stanekzai; Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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