BBC reporter dead in Taliban attack
Published 28/07/2011 | 13:52
At least 19 people, including a BBC reporter, have died in a Taliban bomb and gun attack in southern Afghanistan.
Three suicide attackers blew up vehicles packed with explosives at the gates of a government compound, the opening salvo of an hours-long fight.
The attacks in Uruzgan province were the latest in a surge of violence in the volatile south that has weakened the government's grip on the Taliban's heartland since the July 12 killing of President Hamid Karzai's powerful half brother in neighbouring Kandahar.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assaults in the provincial capital of Tarin Kot. They targeted the governor's house, police headquarters and a third office used by Matiullah Khan, a powerbroker who runs a company that provides security for Nato supply convoys.
Afghan security forces rushed to the scene and Nato provided air support as fighting continued, US air force Capt Justin Brockhoff said.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said a total of six suicide bombers conducted the attacks. Initial reports said seven explosions went off.
Hospital staff in Tarin Kot, said the 19 killed included 10 children, a policeman and two women, and 37 other people were wounded.
The BBC said its Afghan reporter in the province, 25-year-old Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, was among those killed in the fighting.
Khpulwak was in a local radio and television building when it came under attack, Peter Horrocks, director of BBC Global News, said in a statement.
The Taliban spokesman called the AP to express sadness over the death of the journalist and accused pro-government forces of killing him. "He was not our target," Ahmadi said. "We were fighting the headquarters of the police."