ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - Taliban insurgents assaulted a provincial police headquarters Thursday in southern Afghanistan, killing at least 12 people and wounding more than 60 others.
Officials said multiple heavily armed men wearing suicide vests stormed the well-guarded building in the center of Kandahar about 5 p.m. local time. The attack began with a suicide bomber detonating an explosives-packed vehicle at the main entrance to police headquarters.
A large number of civilians were said to be among the casualties because the security installation is near residential areas. The siege was ongoing six hours later, according to residents and insurgent officials.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the violence, saying they had killed and injured dozens of security forces, though insurgent claims are often inflated.
"Kandahar police headquarters initially came under a tactical bomb blast that enabled several martyrdom-seeking mujahedeen [holy warriors], equipped with heavy and light weapons, to enter the compound and launched [the] operation inside the [police] headquarters," the group asserted in a statement.
This was the second deadly Taliban assault on government forces in as many days.
On Wednesday, authorities said an insurgent attack in Badghis province killed more than 30 U.S.-trained Afghan commandos and captured an unspecified number of others. The slain forces reportedly had been assigned to storm a Taliban-run prison to free inmates.
The spike in insurgent attacks in Afghanistan comes as the United States is negotiating a political settlement to the conflict with the Taliban.
Critics say the rise in Taliban attacks could be aimed at increasing its leverage in the months-long peace dialogue between the two adversaries in the war, the longest U.S. foreign military intervention.