Taliban gunmen have unleashed a series of brutal assaults on government targets in Kandahar, a city in southern Afghanistan.
The office of the provincial governor, the mayor’s office, the Afghan intelligence office and police stations have all been attacked.
Al Jazeera reported that rocket-propelled grenades reached near the compound of Tooryalai Wesa, the governor of Kandahar Province. But it was unclear if Wesa was in the residence or not.
A spokesman for Wesa told Reuters from inside the compound: The Taliban are attacking the governor's compound and the fighting is still ongoing.
Three civilians in the compound have been wounded but the governor's staff are all fine.
Witnesses reported heavy gunfire and explosions across the city, which used to be a Taliban stronghold.
Al Jazeera also said shooting was heard near a prison west of the city; the same facility at which the Taliban helped free hundreds of their compatriot last month.
Our attack was against every place where government officials or security forces are found, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a spokesperson for the Taliban, told The Associated Press via telephone.
A lot of people have been killed.”
The government has not confirmed any deaths.
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the chairman of the provincial council, told Al Jazeera that local security officials are seeking to control the city, but many Taliban warriors are hiding out throughout the city.
However, local officials have prohibited foreign journalists from entering the area as the fighting rages.
According to reports, at least two dozen people have been wounded – both civilians and police – and brought to hospital.
The attack renews worries about the stability and security of the existing Afghan government as it prepares for the withdrawal of American and NATO troops. Taliban elements have waged as relentless war against the embryonic government in an effort to undermine its legitimacy and survival.
Last week, Taliban officials announced they would commence a “spring offensive” against foreign troops and the Afghan government.
More worryingly, yesterday Taliban figures confirmed the death of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and warned his killing will only serve to intensify their insurgency.
The martyrdom of Sheik Osama bin Laden will give a new impetus to the current jihad against the invaders, the group said in a statement.
The forthcoming time will prove this both for the friends and the foes.
However, Ahmadi indicated that the assault on Kandahar had nothing to do with bin Laden’s demise, but had been planned for months.
This operation has been planned for a long time, for the past month or two, he said.