Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan,officials said. At least 53 people,including nine attackers,were reported killed in the fighting.
The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Talibans ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures.
Farah Provincial Governor Akram Akhpewak said those killed included 34 civilians,10 security forces and nine attackers.
Nine men wearing suicide vests drove into the center of the provincial capital in Afghan army vehicles that allowed them to bypass checkpoints,provincial police chief Agha Noor Kemtoz said.
Two of the attackers blew themselves up inside one of the vehicles while the others jumped out of the second and ran toward the courthouse and prosecutors office,Kemtoz said.
Guards opened fire,killing one of the attackers,while the others engaged in a fierce gunbattle that left civil servants and government officials holed up in their offices.
Kemtoz,who gave the death toll,said the attack aimed to free 15 Taliban prisoners who were being transferred to the courthouse for trial,which had not yet started.
Definitely the plan was to free the prisoners with this attack. They did not succeed. All the prisoners are accounted for, Kemtoz said
Dr. Abdul Hakim Rasouli,chief of the Farah hospital,said 80 people also were wounded in the attack.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message sent to reporters on Wednesday.