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    Afghan Forces Kill Taliban Militants Who Seized Building in East

    Officials say militants armed with heavy weapons and wearing suicide vests stormed the building Monday near a police station in Gardez.

    Map of Afghanistan
    Map of Afghanistan

    Afghan officials say security forces have killed two heavily-armed Taliban militants who seized a building in an eastern provincial capital.

    Officials say the two militants stormed the building Monday near a police station in Gardez, the capital of Paktia province. Officials say Afghan forces killed the attackers in a gun battle that lasted several hours.  The fighting also wounded three civilians and a police officer.

    Officials earlier had reported that security forces killed three attackers, some wearing suicide vests.  A deputy police chief later told the Associated Press that no suicide vests were found. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault.

    In another development, the Afghan government says 16 militants were killed in operations Sunday in the provinces of Helmand (in the south), Kunduz (in the north) and Wardak (in the east).

    Insurgent violence in Afghanistan has increased this year to its highest level since U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban from power in late 2001.  Taliban militants are seeking to overthrow the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and drive international forces out of the country.

    On Sunday, Mr. Karzai presented his proposed new 23-member Cabinet to parliament.  He has been under international pressure to clean up the corruption that plagued his previous administration, and said his nominees will be held accountable for any corruption.

    Opponents criticized Mr. Karzai for including only one woman and no opposition members in the Cabinet list despite his pledge to work closely with the opposition.

    But Mr. Karzai said almost half of his nominees are new, and he promised to form a new Ministry for Literacy led by a woman, and to appoint women as deputy ministers.  Parliament must approve the new Cabinet before it can begin work.

    It is the first major test of his governance since being re-elected in August in a disputed national vote marred by fraud.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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