South Asia

Afghanistan: Deadly attack in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan

Uruzgan map

Insurgents have carried out a gun and bomb attack in the south Afghan town of Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan province, leaving at least 22 dead, officials say.

They said the violence included three suicide bombings followed by fighting in a market, adding that all eight attackers had now been killed.

The dead include Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, a local BBC reporter.

The Taliban say they carried out the attack, which comes amid renewed violence in Afghanistan.

Nato says it is providing air support to Afghan forces in Tarin Kowt.

TV station stormed

Afghan intelligence officials said at least one bomb exploded near the governor's office and one near the offices of a security firm owned by a local militia commander. It is not clear where the third bomb was detonated.

Most of the fighting took place near these offices, which are close to the main market and a building which houses a local radio and TV station.

The BBC's Bilal Sarwary says the market was attacked from four sides, but the siege was broken by elite forces.

Residents said heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles were used by both sides.

Health officials said 22 people had been killed including three women and 40 injured, most of them civilians.

Among the dead is Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, a reporter for the BBC Pashto radio service as well as the Pajhwok news agency.

He was one of several people killed when the TV and radio station was attacked.

BBC Global News director Peter Horrocks said: "The BBC and the whole world are grateful to journalists like Ahmed Omed who courageously put their lives on the line to report from dangerous places."

Two soldiers were among the dead but no senior government officials have been harmed, officials said.

'Doomsday'

Eyewitness Mohammad Dadu, a butcher at the market, told the BBC: ''I didn't have time to close my shop. I saw two dead bodies and four injured people with blood on their clothes.

"It feels like doomsday. Everyday people came to the market to shop. But today people are here collecting the dead and injured bodies of their relatives. There is blood, smoke from explosives and everyone has fled the area."

Afghan militants have stepped up their attacks as Nato troops begin the handover of security to local forces in parts of the country.

On Wednesday the mayor of the volatile city of Kandahar was killed in a suicide attack.

Two weeks ago, President Hamid Karzai's influential half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, was killed in the same city.