RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Author)
At least eight people have been killed in a suicide attack by the Taliban on a police headquarters in the northern Afghan city of Pul-e-Khumri.
Several Taliban fighters opened fire on national-security forces on May 5 and a number of gunmen had stormed the building, Afghan officials said.
At least 55 others, including security force members, were injured in the attack, according to Ahmad Bariz Sahibzada, the deputy public health director for the Baghlan Province.
Three assailants were killed by police, while another blew himself up in the initial car bombing, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.
"The clashes have not stopped. Twenty injured people were taken to the hospital from the blast site," Assadullah Shahbaz, a member of the Baghlan provincial council, said adding they have sought immediate deployment from neighboring provinces.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing and the clashes with the Afghan forces.
The group claimed that one of its fighters had detonated a Humvee packed with explosives outside the police headquarters.
Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman at the Interior Ministry in Kabul, said Afghan forces gunned down a Taliban fighter who tried to enter the police headquarters, although several Taliban fighters managed to penetrate the offices.
The reports of fresh violence come two days after an Afghan grand council convened by President Ashraf Ghani ended with a demand for an immediate cease-fire.
The council, known as a Loya Jirga, brought together more than 3,200 politicians, tribal elders, prominent figures and others to hammer out a shared strategy for future negotiations with the Taliban.
In a statement on May 3, the Taliban rejected a cease-fire, saying attacks will continue during Ramadan.
The group, which has been holding direct talks with U.S. officials to end the war in Afghanistan, has rejected cease-fire proposals saying U.S. and NATO troops must withdraw from the country first.
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