By Mirwais Harooni
Four suicide attackers stormed a provincial police headquarters in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing 22 police in an attack claimed by the Taliban.
The attack in Logar province outside the capital, Kabul, was the latest to target Afghan security forces following the withdrawal of most foreign combat troops last year after 13 years of war.
In neighbouring Pakistan, a Taliban suicide attack on a provincial police headquarters killed at least six other people in the eastern city of Lahore, in what militants called a revenge strike for the hangings of their comrades.
The Afghan and Pakistani Taliban are separate groups that share the goal of establishing hardline Islamic rule. Tuesday’s attacks did not appear to be coordinated.
Pakistan’s intelligence chief and army chief of staff visited Kabul on Tuesday for meetings with Afghan leaders on cooperating to fight militants on both sides of the border.
In the Afghan assault, the four attackers rushed the police compound in early afternoon, with one detonating his explosives-filled vest at the main gate and killing one policeman.
Two of the attackers were shot dead in the ensuing battle, said Logar’s governor, Niaz Mohammad Amiri.
“Unfortunately, the other attacker managed to detonate his explosives inside the dining hall” where policemen were gathered, Amiri said.
At least 21 police died and seven were wounded in the dining hall blast, said Abdul Wali Toofan, Logar’s deputy police chief.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, claimed responsibility on his official Twitter feed.
Earlier on Tuesday, a bomb attached to a vehicle killed one person in Kabul, police said, breaking a lull in attacks in the Afghan capital.
The bomb in the east of the city killed a Kabul city employee worker, Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said.
The violence came as Pakistan’s army chief of staff, Raheel Sharif, and top intelligence official Rizwan Akhtar visited Kabul.
“Pakistan is working with Afghanistan and the government to do all that can be done to get rid of this menace of terrorism,” Sharif told a news briefing.
Afghanistan and Pakistan have long accused the other of sheltering jihadist fighters. However, relations have been improving since new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani took office late last year.
Afghanistan also held a meeting of provincial police chiefs on Tuesday in preparation for this year’s fighting season against the Taliban that generally runs from April until the winter snows.
Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Ayoub Salangi told the gathering that about 50,000 insurgents of various factions were active in Afghanistan.