ISLAMABAD - Afghan officials say a group of heavily armed Taliban suicide bombers have assaulted a district police headquarters in western Kabul, sparking a fierce gun battle with security forces.
The coordinated insurgent raid, which began with a suicide car bombing at the entrance of the facility, has at least 16 people dead and more than 40 others wounded.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, took credit for the violence, saying the group's fighters inflicted heavy casualties on Afghan forces. The insurgent group often provides an inflated casualty toll to the media.
Mujahid also claimed responsibility for an attack in an eastern part of the Afghan capital at an outpost manned by the National Directorate of Security, the Afghan spy agency.
An interior ministry statement said two suicide bombers took part in that attack. One assailant blew himself up in front of the NDS facility while the other was gunned down by security forces, it added, but gave no details about the casualties.
There are reports at least six police personnel were killed and more than 70 people wounded, including civilians. Interior Ministry Spokesman Sediq Sediqqi says an official casualty toll and details about the number of attackers will be issued once the police headquarters is secured.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the violence, saying the insurgents are indulging in such violent acts to try to raise the morale of their fighters after the recent killing of one of their Taliban commanders.
Ghani was referring to the death of Mullah Abdul Salam, the Taliban commander for northern Kunduz province, who was killed Sunday in a U.S. drone strike.
U.S. Embassy Kabul Special Charge d'Affaires Ambassador Hugo Llorens also issued a statement to condemn the Kabul attacks "in the strongest possible terms."
"To callously target Afghan men and women who devote their lives to serving and defending their fellow citizens, as the Taliban did today, is an act of extraordinary cowardice. We share the sorrow of all Afghans over these heinous acts, which only strengthen our resolve to continue to work tirelessly in pursuit of a peaceful future for Afghanistan," Llorens said.
In addition, a spokesman for the NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan denounced the attack as a “senseless” and “shameful” act by the Taliban.
“There is absolutely no justification for this type of action. I also want to pass on our very deepest sympathies and our condolences for the victims of this absolutely atrocious act,” said Brigadier General Charles Cleveland.
Meanwhile, Taliban insurgents have overrun a northern district after two days of heavy fighting with Afghan security forces.
The embattled district, Tala wa Barfak, is located in northern Baghlan province. The district governor told local media Tuesday the Taliban had attacked it from different directions.
A spokesman for the Islamist insurgency in a brief statement sent to reporters claimed it has captured Tala wa Barfak and killed a large number of Afghan forces. District governor Faiz Mohammad Amiri confirmed to VOA's Afghan service that the Taliban has taken control of it.
The Taliban apparently has stepped up its attacks as the springtime approaches in Afghanistan.