KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban suicide bombers killed at least 16 people on Tuesday as they stepped up their fight against Afghan forces slowly taking the lead from U.S. and international troops.
The first and deadliest of the attacks took place in Herat, a relatively peaceful province whose capital and many districts are under Afghan security control.
A sport utility vehicle packed with explosives blew up outside the gate of the Guzara district police office as people were waiting to go inside to see government officials about various business matters, authorities said.
Three security officers and nine civilians were killed, and more than 50 people, including children, were wounded, said Nasar Ahmad Popul, the Guzara district chief who was inside the headquarters at the time of the blast.
In southwest Helmand province, three suicide attackers wearing vests laden with explosives parked their car outside the police office and walked toward the entrance, said Daud Ahmadi, a provincial spokesman.
Police fired at the attackers, killing one. Two others blew themselves up inside the compound, Ahmadi said. He initially reported that eight police officers died but later revised the toll, saying that four officers were killed and five, including the district commander, were wounded.
Visit to Washington: Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak met with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top U.S. officials at the Pentagon on Tuesday. He is visiting Washington and assuring officials that American efforts in Afghanistan are appreciated.