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Afghanistan

Taliban launch spring offensive with Kandahar assault

Reuters/Omar Sobhani

The Taliban launched an assault on government buildings in the major southern Afghan city of Kandahar Saturday. Six suicide bombings are reported and at least 30 people wounded.

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Fighters armed with guns and rocket-propelled grenades attacked the governor's
office, and ten explosions including six suicide blasts rocked the city, where the Taliban are traditionally strong.

Dossier: AfPak news and analysis

Gunmen occupied a hotel near the local office of Afghanistan's intelligence service, while suicide bombers tried to attack two police offices but were shot before they could reach their targets.

Taliban representatives claimed responsibility for the attack and said that many people had been killed. Local hospitals reported 30 people brought in injured.

It is believed that Kandahar governor Tooryalai Wesa was holed up in his compound.

The rebels threatened reprisals after this week’s killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden but say that the Kandahar attacks have been planned for nearly three weeks
and were part of the start of the annual spring offensive announced last week.

The assault against the heavily guarded governor's compound was launched from two nearby buildings including a shopping mall which the attackers had ordered shopkeepers to leave shortly before the violence began.

Nearly 500 Taliban prisoners escaped from Kandahar's prison last month and police chief was killed by an attacker in a police uniform, while in January Wesa's deputy was killed.

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