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11 die as insurgents attack government center in Afghan province

By Laura King and Aimal Yaqubi, Los Angeles Times –

KABUL, Afghanistan — Gunmen and bombers stormed the governor’s compound in a southwestern Afghan province Thursday. Afghan police managed to repel the assault, which left 11 people dead — six police officers, a civilian and all four attackers — according to government officials.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the strike in the provincial capital of Farah province, saying it was carried out by “martyrdom-seeking” fighters as part of the group’s spring offensive. Insurgents have staged similar attacks in recent weeks on government installations across Afghanistan.

Farah borders Iran, and also shares a border with restive Helmand province.

The Interior Ministry, in a statement confirming the death toll, commended the “valor and dedication” of Afghan police in fighting off the insurgents. The attack came days before a NATO summit, set to begin Sunday in Chicago, at which the allies are to reaffirm plans to withdraw nearly all of their combat troops and turn the task of battling the insurgents over to Afghan forces by 2014.

The United States is prodding allies to make specific commitments toward sharing the estimated $4.1-billion annual cost to keep the Afghan police and army afloat when most foreign forces have departed.

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