KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan insurgency sent 13 suicide bombers to assault two high-profile government targets on Monday, one in the capital and the other in a southern province, in a signal of its willingness to expend followers on missions that have relatively little military impact but command headlines.
The first attack took place on the edge of Kabul International Airport, starting before dawn with explosions that shook the city awake and forced air traffic to be rerouted, but left only the seven bombers dead after a four-hour firefight.
The second attack was in the capital of Zabul province, where six bombers in two vehicles attacked the provincial council building and an election office, wounding 19 and killing a police officer before being killed by security forces.
In both attacks, the Afghan government's security forces responded quickly and relatively well, according to U.S. and Afghan officials.
But even though the militants caused relatively little damage or loss of life on Monday, they did disrupt the country's biggest airport and an important provincial capital, despite years of Western military effort in Afghanistan. And in the Zabul attack, in particular, they did wound many civilians and gave local government leaders a close call.
Taliban spokesmen claimed responsibility for the Kabul attack. No one claimed responsibility for the Zabul attack, but officials suspected the Taliban.
The Interior Ministry spokesman, Sediq Seddiqi, said that the attackers' tactics, and the fact that some wore security uniforms, suggested involvement by the Haqqani Network. The militant group, of eastern Afghan origin but now mostly based in Pakistan's ungoverned tribal areas, has been implicated in a number of complex attacks in Kabul.