Insurgents hit Afghan police headquarters

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Taliban insurgents attacked the provincial police headquarters in the southern city of Kandahar on Saturday, firing rocket-propelled grenades and touching off an ongoing street battle that left at least one person dead.

The bold midday assault showed insurgents are still able to launch strikes on heavily fortified government institutions despite an influx of U.S. troops into Kandahar province, the Taliban's birthplace, over the past year. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Zalmai Ayubi, a spokesman for the provincial governor of Kandahar, said several militants occupied a building across the street from the headquarters and were surrounded by police. The police post is in central Kandahar, not far from the governor's offices.

At least one person was killed and 26 were wounded, Ayubi said.

Ahmad Wali Karzai, head of the provincial council, said the five- to six-story building includes a wedding hall and shops. He said two or three militants disguised in police uniforms entered the building and began firing rocket-propelled grenades at the police headquarters.

An Associated Press reporter nearby said multiple explosions rocked the neighborhood around the station. At least one of the initial blasts was followed by bursts of automatic gunfire, and Afghan police fought insurgents in an ongoing gun battle. Exchanges of gunfire occasionally died down, only to pick up again several minutes later.