'Suicide' gunmen storm government building in Afghanistan

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The Independent Online

Gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed a government building in eastern Afghanistan early today and engaged in a shoot-out with Afghan security forces who surrounded the compound, officials said.

At least three police officers were killed in ongoing fighting.

The attack came a day after a Taliban suicide bomber infiltrated the capital's main military hospital and killed at least six Afghan medical students.

In the latest incident, three or four men armed with assault rifles and wearing explosives strapped to their bodies shot their way into a compound that houses the traffic department on the edge of Khost city shortly after dawn, said General Raz Mohammad Oryakhail, the army commander for Khost province.

They killed a police guard as they entered and then took over the second floor of the building, from which they shot at police and soldiers outside, he said.

The gunbattle was still going on more than four hours later, and flames were shooting out of the building, said provincial Police Chief Gen. Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai. At least two more police were killed, he said. Ishaqzai said security officials believed some of the attackers were also dead.

Police and soldiers were trying to avoid launching a full assault because they didn't want the gunmen to detonate their suicide vests, Ishaqzai said. Afghan security forces had the compound surrounded, he said.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack.