Taliban strike on Afghan security forces kills 13

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Taliban fighters struck at Afghan security forces yesterday, storming an army recruiting centre in the north that sparked a day-long gun battle and ambushing a bus carrying army officers in the capital – the first major attack in Kabul in months.

At least 13 Afghan security forces were killed in the two attacks, with the firefight at the recruiting centre in the northern province of Kunduz ending only after the last militant detonated his suicide vest, local police said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for both operations.

Separately, the head of the violence-wracked Chahar Dara district of Kunduz survived an ambush when a roadside bomb detonated as he passed in a police vehicle on the way to his office. District chief Abdul Wahid Omarkhel said insurgents opened fire on the car after the blast, but his bodyguards returned fire and nobody was hurt.

The violence in Kunduz, which has seen security deteriorate over the past two years, came a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited her country's troops stationed in the province.

An internal review of US President Barack Obama's year-old war strategy unveiled last week noted progress against the Taliban, particularly in southern areas which saw a surge of US troop levels. But the Taliban have been showing they can strike outside those areas.