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Page last updated at 11:39 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 12:39 UK

'10 dead' in Afghanistan attack

Nato soldiers outside the provincial council offices in Kandahar
The gun battle at the council could be heard 400 metres away

A suicide attack on a provincial council building in southern Afghanistan has killed at least 10 people, the interior ministry says.

It said that at least three attackers also died in the attack in Kandahar, the main city in the south.

An eyewitness said the attackers wore Afghan army uniforms and their assault started with a car bomb.

The attack comes a day after officials said Afghan and US troops had killed 30 militants in Uruzgan province.

Reports that a similar number of insurgents were killed on Wednesday in the neighbouring province of Helmand proved incorrect.

Bomb blast

The interior ministry spokesman said that three men, wearing suicide bomb vests and armed with assault rifles, opened fire indiscriminately inside the provincial council compound after the car bomb destroyed the council's gates.

Map

The spokesman told the BBC's Mark Dummett in Kabul that the police were able to respond to the attack within three minutes. He described this as an "outstanding success".

They quickly gunned down two of the attackers, he said, but the third man detonated his bomb before they were able to shoot him as well.

At least one guard was killed, as were civilians. A number of people were also injured.

The United Nations said that the battle was so massive, it damaged the windows of one its buildings 400 metres away.

Afghanistan has seen rising levels of violence in recent months, with Taleban attacks increasing as militants battle for control of parts of the countryside.

Vowing to make Afghanistan a foreign policy priority, US President Barack Obama is sending 21,000 additional American troops to bolster 38,000 already in the country.

In all, there are about 70,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, most of them serving under Nato's command.

The Taleban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until being removed from power in the US-led invasion of late 2001.



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