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Insurgents storm governor's office in western Afghanistan

Four suspected insurgents stormed the governor’s compound in the capital of western Farah province Thursday morning, killing six policemen and a civilian, security officials said.

The attackers, who were dressed in police uniforms, threw a grenade at guards at the compound gate before entering the building, said Mohammad Ghaus Malyar, Farah’s deputy police chief.

Armed with AK-47s, suicide explosive vests, and rocket- propelled grenades as well as hand grenades, they fought security forces for more than 30 minutes before being shot and killed, Malyar said.

He said that 12 people – nine civilians and three policemen – were also wounded in the attack. However, Abdul Manan, the director of Farah hospital, put the number of injured at 15, with two of those wounded in critical condition.

A woman and a child were among the victims, said Manan.

The apparent target of the attack was Farah’s newly-appointed governor, Dr. Mohammad Akram Khpalwak. One attacker got close to the governor’s office, but was shot dead by the deputy governor, Malyar said.

The governor was unharmed.

Announcing the start of their spring offensive earlier this month, the Taliban threatened to target government officials. A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi claimed responsibility for today’s attack at Farah in a statement posted on the insurgents' website.

The Afghan government announced on Sunday the transfer of responsibility for security at Farah city from U.S. to Afghan forces. The third phase includes all provincial centers of the country's 34 provinces. Afghan forces are scheduled to take over all security responsibilities in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

(Safi is a McClatchy special correspondent.)