GARDEZ - Government offices and the bazaar in Chamkani district of southeastern Paktia province remained closed for a second day after a brazen suicide and gun attack on a government building.
Three policemen were killed when a group of five Taliban suicide bombers attacked the headquarters of Samkani district on Thursday near the Pakistani border. Another two policemen were injured after they started a gun-battle with the attackers. Three attackers blew themselves up at the gate of the government building and the two others who tried to enter the compound were shot dead by police, governor's spokesman, Rohullah Samoon, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Eighteen tribal elders and five district chiefs were meeting at the compound when the attack happened, provincial council chief, Shayesta Jan Ahadi, said.
The gathering discussed names of individuals for taking part in the November 16 traditional Loya Jirga on a strategic cooperation agreement between Afghanistan and the US, witness Ashaqullah said.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed the fighters conquered the district headquarters as a result of the suicide and gun attack that lasted two hours. He claimed five policemen were killed and scores of others injured.
Officials said the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) destroyed a mosque where gunmen had hidden.
The building was partially damaged in the attack that spread panic among residents.
The attack took place in a commercial area also frequented by people living across the border in Pakistan's Para Chinar area of Kurram tribal region. The town is the second largest commercial centre in the province after Gardez, the provincial capital.
Police ordered closed all shops in order to prevent possible civilian casualties, a resident of Mandkhel, Haji Mamoor, said.
Residents say it was the first ever attack which brought business activities to a halt in last nine years.
"It will take some time to see crowds of people like previous times," a shopkeeper, Mohammad Hashim, said.
The district chief, Syed Mohammad Zazai, said he was inside the building along with other officials when the attack took place at around 12am. He said they were then taken out by Afghan and foreign troops.
The district police chief, Col. Habib Noor, also sustained slight injuries during the gun battle which ended with the deaths of five attackers.