Seven Taliban militants disguised as policemen and fitted with bomb-laden vests launched a surprise attack early Wednesday. The militants targeted the governor’s office in Panjshir province, one of Afghanistan’s most peaceful regions.
The attack in Panjshir, located northeast of Kabul, is seen in the region as a sign that the Taliban is expanding its influence ahead of the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2014.
Panjshir resisted the Taliban's rule during the regime’s 1996-2001 rule, and it has remained stable since its ouster.
Governor Kramuddin Karim said that all seven militants involved in the attack were killed, the AP reports.
Provincial police chief Qasim Jangalbagh said two of the attackers blew themselves up and four others were killed in a counterattack by police. One of the assailants fled the scene but later blew himself up.
Afghan Interior Minister Gen. Ghulam Majtaba Patang commended Panjshir provincial police for defeating six suicide bombers “in just 20 minutes.” He added that the Afghan police have "found the ability to stand up against any kind of attack and defeat it,” AP reports.
The last time Panjshir was hit by a Taliban attack was in October 2011, when four militants attacked a U.S. base in the Rakha district of the region. There were no U.S. casualties in the attack.
Panjshir was among the first regions in Afghanistan that NATO considered stable enough to be handed over to Afghan security forces in 2011.
Wednesday's attack came five days after a major Taliban attack occurred in Kabul last Friday, when suicide bombers targeted an international compound in the city center, leading to a firefight that lasted several hours.
Friday’s attack was near a compound used by the International Organization for Migration, a U.N.-affiliated group currently operating in Afghanistan. An Afghan police officer, two civilians and all four assailants were killed in the attack. The Taliban said a “rest house” used by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency was attacked.