Afghanistan: Explosion, gun battle near Interior Ministry compound

Seven attackers killed as Afghan forces stave off major terror bid

Suspected Militants Strike Afghan Interior Ministry, Exchange Gunfire With Police

At least one police officer was killed and five others injured in an attack on the Afghan Interior Ministry in Kabul on Wednesday, according to police.

Special forces rushed to the scene after the attackers detonated what police said was a vehicle bomb at the first checkpoint leading to the ministry, then tried to fight their way inside.

A senior police official said a auto bomb was detonated near the ministry's entrance and then a gun battle between attackers and members of the security forces broke out. The Amaq statement did not provide the names or specify the number of attackers.

"These strikes represent one of the largest blows to Taliban leadership in the a year ago", U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and Resolute Support commander, said in the press release.

A wounded Afghan girl receives treatment after the attack on the interior ministry building in Kabul on Wednesday. Video footage from the scene showed that the assailants wore what appeared to be imitations of USA military uniforms.

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While the strike by an artillery rocket system would disrupt Taliban operations, it would not necessarily mean any interruption to the fighting, O'Donnell said. Critics warn the USA -backed Afghan army can not promise to defeat the Taliban or overcome Afghanistan's vast political divisions and entrenched corruption.

Last month, for example, more than two dozen people were killed by suicide bomber attacks in Kabul.

"[These] are just a few examples of the improvements we've seen in the [Afghan forces] fighting abilities, which ... is the focus of our investment and one of the key parts of the South Asia strategy - defeating 80 percent of enemy attacks, retaking any fallen district centers, successfully defending Farah, pursuing and killing the attackers, defeating terrorist attacks", the general said.

Nicholson said initial indications suggested Taliban and the Haqqani network were behind the attack, even though Islamic State claimed responsibility.

Daesh said it was behind the attack, but provided no immediate evidence for its claim. "We were told to stay inside our offices as the compound was attacked", said one ministry employee.

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Khalid Safi, a spokesman for the provincial governor, says those killed were the commander of the police station and the deputy director of traffic police for Logar's capital city, Puli Alim.

The Taliban claimed the attacks in both provinces.

Last week, a United States government watchdog group said the administration's revamped strategy has made little progress against the Taliban insurgency, leaving the country a "dangerous and volatile" place almost 17 years after the USA invaded.

The Taliban have stepped up their attacks against Afghan security forces as well as government officials since the announcement of their spring offensive in April across the country.

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