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Taliban attack police headquarters in Afghanistan’s Kandahar, 20 wounded

KABUL (Reuters) – Taliban fighters detonated a car bomb at a gate of police headquarters in the Afghan city of Kandahar on Thursday, wounding at least 20 people, police and medical officials and the Taliban said.

After the blast, militant gunman opened fire from nearby positions and members of the security forces were battling them, said Tadeen Khan, the southern city’s chief of police.

The attackers targeted the police force’s counter-narcotics wing, Khan said.

Police cordoned off the area as passersby fled.

A doctor on duty in Kandahar provincial hospital said 20 wounded people had been taken to the hospital, most of them members of the security forces.

The Taliban said in a statement their fighters had detonated a car bomb and clashes were continuing as some fighters had entered the police offices.

Kandahar was the former seat of the Taliban when they ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until they were ousted by a U.S.-led coalition in 2001.

The militants have fought on and while U.S. officials and Taliban militants have been discussing a peace deal since late last year to end the war, the violence has not abated.

At least 20 Afghan forces members were killed in a Taliban ambush in Abkamari district in western Badghis province on Wednesday.

The Taliban also killed an Afghan commander on Wednesday in central Afghanistan. Mateen Mujtaba, who headed an army division in Ghazni province, was conducting a security check in Qarabagh district when an Afghan soldier started shooting.

Officials said the soldier was an infiltrator of the hardline Islamist group.

Reporting by Sarwar Amani in Kandhar, Abdul Qadir Sediqi in Kabul; Editing by Robert Birsel and Frances Kerry

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