A Taliban attack on a government compound in Afghanistan on Thursday killed 13 security personnel and left at least 60 other people wounded when a truck bomb triggered hours of fighting, officials said.
About 20 insurgents armed with machine guns and grenade launchers were also killed during the assault on the intelligence agency base in Ghazni province, one of the most volatile regions of Afghanistan.
The attack underlined growing insecurity in the country, which is beset by a political crisis over disputed election results at the same time as US-led NATO combat troops are winding down their war against the Taliban.
The Islamist group claimed responsibility for the attack, in which the truck blast at the compound entrance sent broken glass raining down on civilians in the city before police and soldiers fought with the attackers.
“After a three-hour gun battle, the security forces killed all 19 attackers,” Assadullah Ensafi, deputy police chief of Ghazni said.
“Thirteen security personnel – two NDS (National Directorate of Security) agents, three police and eight quick reaction forces were killed in the attack.
“The truck bomb was very strong, it broke windows of houses and shops around the building.”
About 60 people, including many civilians, were treated at Ghazni hospital, Dr Memat, who only uses one name said.
He said 15 people were in critical condition.
The disputed election has emboldened the Taliban, with fresh offensives launched in the south and east, while several provinces close to the capital Kabul have suffered worsening unrest.
The two rival presidential candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, both claim they won the fraud-tainted election in June.
NATO leaders met in Britain on Thursday, with discussions due to be held on future support and funding for Afghanistan’s security forces after all foreign combat troops withdraw by December.