Taliban seize district in Afghanistan's Ghazni province

The Taliban denied local official reports that 50 of the assailants had been killed after the arrival of government reinforcements.

The pre-dawn attack on Khwaja Omari, one of the few safe districts in the province, involved scores of militants who burned down the district building after the attack 120 km to the southwest of Kabul.

The total number of civilian casualties in the January-March period reached 2,258 - nearly unchanged from the same period in the past two years, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said.

Police say Taliban fighters attacked a district compound in central Afghanistan overnight, killing at least six government security forces in several hours of fighting.

Ordinary Afghans are increasingly in the crosshairs of militants, a United Nations report showed Thursday, with the number of civilians killed or wounded in attacks deliberately targeting them more than doubling in the first quarter. The Taliban planted mines to prevent government reinforcements from coming to help and quickly took responsibility for the attack, said Mohammad Arif Rahmani, a lawmaker in the Afghan Parliament.

"Our mujahideen have confiscated weapons and ammunition", Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

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Afghan officials often give conflicting casualty figures immediately after an attack.

Bagram District Gov. Abdul Shukoor Qudusi said the driver was wounded in the explosion late Wednesday night, which set several shops in the area on fire.

"Five National Directorate of Security operatives, Khwaja Omari district governor and seven police force members were martyred (in the attack)", he added.

The district governor Ali Dost Shams was killed in the attack along with 15 security force members and civilians.

"Afghan civilians continue to suffer, caught in the conflict, in ways that are preventable; this must stop now", said Ingrid Hayden, the secretary-general's deputy special representative for Afghanistan.

  • Adam Floyd