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Taliban launch deadly attack in Kandahar

KABUL — Insurgent gunmen and suicide bombers launched fierce simultaneous attacks Saturday against half a dozen government buildings in the troubled southern city of Kandahar, hours after the Taliban vowed to fight on in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death.

At least eight people were killed, including six of the attackers, and dozens of others were injured in the daylong assault, provincial officials said.

Gunfire and large explosions rattled through the city center for hours, witnesses said, as fighting raged outside the heavily fortified governor's compound, the mayor's office, the directorate of the main intelligence agency and several police installations.

Kandahar, which the Taliban movement considers its spiritual home, has been a focus of months of efforts by NATO forces to establish security across Afghanistan's volatile south. The Western military last year claimed to have driven the Taliban out of key strongholds surrounding Kandahar city, but attacks such as this one point to a continuing insurgent presence.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Saturday's assault, boasting in a statement that its fighters were "shaking up the entire city."

NATO's International Security Assistance Force depicted the attack as a failed bid to seize control of Kandahar. It said its troops had provided "perimeter security," with Afghan forces taking the lead in fighting off the assailants. Most of the insurgent dead appeared to be suicide bombers killed when they blew themselves up.

Deaths

As of Saturday, 1,462 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan. Identifications as reported by the U.S. military and not previously published:

Army Spc. Preston J. Dennis, 23, Redding, Calif.; explosion April 28; Kandahar province.

Army Sgt. Matthew D. Hermanson, 22, Appleton, Wis.; small arms fire April 28; Wardak province.

Army Cpl. Kevin W. White, 22, Westfield, N.Y.; explosion Monday; Kunar province.

Captured soldier's father seeks help from Pakistani officials

In a rare public appeal, the father of a U.S. soldier held captive in the Afghan war has sought the help of Pakistan's military in securing the release of Spc. Bowe Bergdahl. Idaho resident Bob Bergdahl, in a video post on YouTube, directly addresses Pakistan army leader Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the head of the country's intelligence service. "Our family is counting on your professional integrity and your honor to secure the safe return of our son," he said. "And we thank you. Our family knows the high price that has been paid by your men in the army and the frontier corps." Bowe Bergdahl's parents have declined to say much publicly since he disappeared from his base in southern Afghanistan on June 30, 2009. Bergdahl, 25, is the only American soldier being held in the war.

Times wires

Taliban launch deadly attack in Kandahar 05/07/11 [Last modified: Sunday, May 8, 2011 12:00am]
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