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Page last updated at 19:10 GMT, Saturday, 25 July 2009 20:10 UK

Suicide bombers hit Afghan city

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Afghan police arrived at the scene of the assault by suicide bombers

Taliban militants have tried to carry out multiple suicide attacks on government buildings in the eastern Afghan city of Khost, officials say.

They say at least six attackers wearing suicide belts targeted the main police station, but were killed in a gun battle with security forces.

Another militant died in a suicide car bombing. At least 17 people were wounded in the violence.

It comes amid a rise in attacks ahead of the 20 August presidential election.

The interior ministry says six suicide bombers armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades attacked Khost's police station and nearby buildings on Saturday.

"All of the bombers who had suicide vests on their bodies were identified and fired at by our brave police before they reached their targets," the ministry said.

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It was unclear which attackers were shot dead by security forces and how many managed to detonate their vests.

The suicide car bomber injured a number of policemen at an old military hospital in the city.

Defence officials said an eighth attacker may have got away.

In total three security officers and 14 civilians were wounded in Saturday's fighting. One civilian is in a critical condition, a defence ministry spokesman said.

Security worries

One of the presidential candidates, Ramazan Bashardost, was in Khost but was not affected.

The attack is a big blow to the authorities who have promised better security for the elections next month, says the BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul.

Such attacks will only add to the worries of local Afghans in the country's restive south-eastern provinces.

After attacks in Khost, Paktia and Ningarhar provinces recently, security was beefed up specifically on the outskirts of the city which borders Pakistan.

According to local residents, all vehicles coming in and out of Khost were checked on regular basis.

In May, six people were killed when militants launched simultaneous assaults on government buildings in Khost.

Last week at least four security personnel were killed in attacks on Gardez, about 50 miles (80km) northwest of Khost, when militants attacked the police chief's office, a police station and the intelligence directorate, as well as the governor's compound.

Another security official died in an attack in eastern city of Jalalabad.



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