MAZAR-E-SHARIF -- At least 11 security personnel were killed Monday (July 13) in an attack claimed by the Taliban on a rural office of Afghanistan's intelligence agency, officials said.
The insurgents said a suicide bomber detonated a device inside a car near the National Directorate of Security (NDS) while gunmen stormed the building in Aibak city.
Eleven people were killed and 63 others, mostly civilians, were wounded in the explosion and gunfire, Samangan Governor Abdul Latif Ibrahimi told AFP.
The fighting, which lasted for nearly four hours, ended after security forces shot dead three armed men, governor's spokesman Muhammad Sediq Azizi said.
"It was a huge explosion that broke all our windows," said witness Haseeb, who gave only one name. He is a government employee who works near the NDS compound.
"Many people have been wounded by flying pieces of glass."
President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack.
"Resorting to continue violence and killing people to gain concessions in the talks is the worst approach that regretfully the Taliban has adopted," Ghani said in a statement.
In recent months, the Taliban have carried out near-daily attacks against Afghan forces -- even as the government prepares to engage in peace talks with the militants aimed at ending the war.
In two separate terrorist acts on Sunday (July 12) blamed on the Taliban, at least 19 security personnel were killed, officials said.
A group of 12 soldiers and police were killed in a seven-hour battle with Taliban fighters who attacked their outpost in Kunduz Province, Mohammad Yusuf Ayubi, the provincial council chief, said.
Taliban forces have regularly attacked security forces in the province, often attempting to enter Kunduz city, which has briefly fallen twice to the militants in recent years.
In the second attack July 12, in Badakhshan, seven policemen were killed in fighting with Taliban fighters, Naik Muhammad Nazari, spokesman to the governor, said.
The Taliban claimed both attacks in Kunduz and Badakhshan.