KANDAHAR, May 7: The Taliban unleashed a coordinated wave of attacks on government targets in the key southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Saturday, killing at least two people and wounding 29.

President Hamid Karzai charged that the violence was “revenge” for this week’s killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by US troops in Pakistan, but the Taliban said the operation was planned several weeks ahead.

Targets in the first major incident since the Taliban unveiled the start of its spring offensive included the offices of the governor, mayor and intelligence service plus two schools and several police offices.

The violence in the city of Kandahar kicked off around 1pm when Taliban fighters with guns and rocket-propelled grenades holed up in nearby buildings and attacked the governor’s office.

Later on, 10 explosions, including six suicide blasts, two car bombs and two rickshaw bombs rocked the city.

Provincial Governor Tooryalai Wesa, who was in his compound as the attack took place, revealed details of casualties in a press conference while officials stressed the fighting was not yet over.

“As a result of today’s terrorist attacks, 29 people were injured and two were killed. Ten members of security forces are among the injured,” Wesa said. A statement from his office added: “Our brave security forces have repulsed all enemy attacks but their resistance is still continuing in one area... but will soon be over.” The two buildings close to the governor’s office, the focal point of the attacks, are now thought to have been almost been cleared, although aircraft targeting Taliban fighters were circling in the skies above.

However, fighting near the National Directorate of Security (NDS) office was ongoing where Taliban fighters occupied a six-storey hotel.

Karzai’s office issued a strong condemnation of the attacks, linking them to Al Qaeda and the death of Osama bin Laden.

“Al Qaeda and its terrorist members who have suffered a major defeat with the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistani territory have tried to hide this defeat by killing civilians in Kandahar and take their revenge on the innocent people of Afghanistan,” the statement said.—AFP



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