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Suicide Bombers Raid Government Compound in Kandahar

Officials in Afghanistan say four suicide attackers have stormed a provincial council office in Kandahar, killing at least seven civilians and six police. The incident is the latest in a series of assault-style raids to strike targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

Afghanistan's Interior Ministry said the attack on the provincial council building in Kandahar occurred before midday when a car carrying four armed men stopped outside the compound gates.

Ministry spokesman Zamary Bashary said three men, strapped with explosives, jumped out and then the driver detonated a bomb. The blast destroyed the vehicle and killed several civilians and police.

"After the bombing, the three bombers got into the compound and opened fire on the civilians who were in the yard of the provincial council office," he said. "The good thing was the police of Kandahar showed a very quick reaction and in a five-minute period they got to the scene. They were able to target two of the bombers and killed them on the spot."

Bashary says the final attacker was able to detonate a suicide vest before police shot him.

Kandahar is the largest city in southern Afghanistan's Taliban dominated provinces and the assault was the second against the provincial council headquarters in recent months.

In November, a suicide truck bomb detonated in the same area of government offices. President Hamid Karzai's brother, provincial assembly chief Wali Karzai, narrowly escaped both attacks.

Meanwhile, Afghan security forces reported intense clashes with Taliban fighters in nearby Helmand province. Officials says Afghan and U.S.-led forces killed at least 30 militants and wounded 20 others on Tuesday. On Monday, in southern Uruzgan province, officials said a joint operation killed 30 militants.

The coordinated assault on the Kandahar provincial government offices compound is the latest in a series of commando-style raids on non-military targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

While different militant groups are suspected to be behind the attacks, they have all featured coordinated assaults by trained gunmen who fight pitched battles with rescuers, drawing widespread media coverage.

Militants in the eastern Pakistani city Lahore carried out similar gun and grenade attacks against a police training school earlier this week. Last month, a group of gunmen targeted the Sri Lanka cricket team's bus in the same city, battling with police on live television before fleeing.

In February, attackers stormed Afghanistan's Justice Ministry in downtown Kabul, gunning down workers in their offices. The attack shut down the city center for hours, while television crews filmed the rescue operation.

The most notorious such assault occurred in Mumbai, India in November. Groups of gunmen killed civilians in hotels, a train station, a Jewish-owned guest house and a restaurant. The siege lasted three days and killed more than 170 people.