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Haqqani network suspected in suicide attack on Afghan office

November 10, 2011 |  9:38 am

REPORTING FROM KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- A team of suicide bombers attacked a government district center in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing three police officers and demonstrating insurgents’ determination to keep up the pressure on NATO and Afghan forces in the volatile region bordering Pakistan.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, but the attack took place in Paktia province, where an offshoot faction, the Haqqani network, is active. The Haqqani group is based across the border in Pakistan’s tribal areas, but NATO troops have been making a concerted effort to hunt down its field commanders in targeted raids inside Afghanistan.

The assault on the administrative center of Samkani bore some Haqqani hallmarks, officials said, including the simultaneous use of five suicide attackers -- one in a vehicle and the other four on foot. The attack was launched in signature Haqqani style, with the car bombing followed by a hail of rocket-propelled grenades and machine-gun fire.  

Paktia’s deputy governor, Abdul Rahman Mangal, credited Afghan security forces with a quick reaction, shooting dead two of the bombers before they could detonate their explosives. He also said tribal elders attending a meeting at the time were safe, but that the district police chief and a police officer were wounded in the attack.

The provincial police chief, Abdul Ghafar Safi, blamed “enemies of the government,” the usual term for the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

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 --Laura King

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