KABUL, Afghanistan — Two suicide bombers blew themselves up at an Afghan police headquarters Saturday, killing 12 officers in an area along the Pakistan border that still sees heavy Taliban attacks even as NATO pours in more troops and resources.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in eastern Paktika province, which has long been a refuge for Islamist extremists from around the world. It is one of the most violent areas of Afghanistan, where NATO and Afghan forces fight daily against the Haqqani network, a Pakistan-based Taliban faction closely tied to al-Qaida.
The attackers, who were disguised in police uniforms, made it through three security gates, said Nawab Waziry, the head of Paktika's provincial council. One attacker detonated his explosives inside the police headquarters building, while the other blew himself up near the entrance about 20 minutes later.
"The site was covered with blood," Waziry told the Associated Press after visiting the scene. He said an intelligence report several weeks ago warned that suicide attackers wearing police uniforms would strike soon.
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"Even with all this information, still police were not able to prevent this attack," he said.
The blasts killed at least 12 officers and wounded 16, said Gen. Daud Andarabi, spokesman for the regional police commander in southeastern Afghanistan.
A NATO service member also was killed in a bomb attack in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, but it was unclear if there was any connection to the Paktika bombing because the military coalition did not give any further details.
Although NATO forces have poured troops into the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand and have been making progress in rolling back the Taliban, fighting has continued in the eastern provinces where the Haqqani network holds sway.
The area, about 92 miles south of Kabul, borders the Pakistani region of North Waziristan and has been the target of numerous drone strikes against the Taliban, al-Qaida and the forces of the Haqqani network.
Saturday's attacks come amid a series of setbacks in efforts to negotiate an end to the nine-year war. The ongoing violence and intransigence of Taliban militants has led Western officials to advocate more strongly this year for a negotiated solution that would allow insurgents to have some sort of role in the government.