A group of Taliban suicide bombers attacked a provincial police headquarters in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least 22 officers and wounding many others a day after Taliban insurgents ambushed and killed 13 policemen in the south.
Afghan authorities said the attack on the police headquarters in Logar province happened around launch time. They said four suicide bombers armed with automatic weapons and wearing police uniforms assaulted the installation.
Din Mohammad Darwish, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said one of the attackers blew himself up at the entrance gate. Two others were shot dead by security forces, while the fourth made his way into the facility and detonated his explosives-packed vest in the dining room where police officers had gathered for lunch.
Darwish said most of the deaths occurred in the dining area.
He said the assailants were in police uniforms, mixing with other officers on their way to the cafeteria for lunch. He said an investigation has been launched into the incident to determine circumstances that enabled the militants to enter the facility and carry out the attack.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the insurgent group was behind Tuesday’s bloodshed.
The brazen assault came a day after Taliban fighters ambushed and killed 13 policemen in southern Kandahar province. The state-run Afghan media reported the attack took place while police were searching a suspected militant hideout in the Maiwand district.
The Taliban has increased attacks on Afghan security forces following the withdrawal of most foreign combat troops from the country in December. The latest insurgent violence came as top Afghan security officials from across the country gathered in Kabul Tuesday to examine and discuss key counter-insurgency measures.
The three-day meeting convened as the spring fighting season in Afghanistan nears. U.S. commander of the international forces General John Campbell, spoke at the inaugural session to reassure Afghanistan of continued support.
He urged Afghan provincial security chiefs to ensure implementation of policy decisions and prepare now for the upcoming fighting season that he described as the "biggest challenge" facing Afghanistan's security forces.
"Without your professionalism, your enthusiasm and your diligence, the people in your province will suffer," he cautioned. "They will neither respect nor support you. We will continue to support you for many, many more years."
Meanwhile, local Taliban militants in neighboring Pakistan Tuesday attacked the provincial police headquarters in the eastern city of Lahore, killing at least five people. The Afghan and Pakistani Taliban are separate groups, but both want to establish harsh Islamic rule.
Afghanistan and Pakistan have lately intensified efforts to jointly tackle the threat of extremism and terrorism on both sides of their mostly porous border.
Pakistani military chief General Raheel Sharif and the head of the country’s spy agency, ISI, undertook a one-day trip to Kabul on Tuesday to further joint counterterrorism efforts.
They held discussions with Afghan senior political and military officials. Afterward, Sharif promised increased anti-terror cooperation.
“I would say enemies of Afghanistan are enemies of Pakistan and we are there to stand by you and fight this war, and fight this war till the end and this menace of terrorism, I think which has hurt both Pakistan and Afghanistan needs to be tackled boldly and in an upfront manner,” he said.
Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah praised the steps Pakistan has taken to tackle terrorist groups threatening both the nations.