Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi on Thursday said the afternoon attack in Afghanistan’s second-largest city started with a car bomb, then saw gunmen storm the police compound.
“A number of mujahideen equipped with heavy and small arms breached the headquarters and launched their operations inside,” he said.
Baheer Ahmadi, the Kandahar governor’s spokesman, said in a statement that 11 people were killed in the attack, including nine civilians and two police officers, while another 89 – including women and children – were wounded.
Two Taliban attackers blew themselves up and six others were shot dead by the security forces, officials said
Hayatullah Hayat, the provincial governor for Kandahar, said Afghan security forces had launched a “clean-up operation” to see if any attackers were remaining.
“The fighting is over now. Some vehicles were burned. Now the Afghan army and US helicopters are hovering in the area,” police chief Tadin Khan told AFP news agency.
Pictures on social media showed a huge plume of smoke rising over Kandahar, and Hayat said about six trucks carrying commercial goods had burned.
Kandahar is the former seat of the Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until their removal by a US-led coalition in 2001. Since then, Taliban fighters have been fighting US and allied forces, demanding the departure of all foreign troops from Afghan soil.
Attacks amid peace talks
The assault came amid a series of peace talks between the United States and the Taliban that both sides say are making progress, but which so far have yielded no reduction in violence in the gruelling Afghan conflict.
US officials and the Taliban have been discussing a peace deal since late last year. Earlier this month, a high-profile intra-Afghan dialogue to find an end to the 18-year war was also held in Qatar.
But despite the peace talks, the level of violence has not fallen off, with Afghan fighters and the Taliban still suffering daily losses.
The Kandahar attack came a day after two Afghan soldiers – who were believed to be Taliban operatives – fatally shot an Afghan colonel in Ghazni province
Also on Wednesday, at least 20 Afghan special forces commandos were killed in a Taliban ambush in western Afghanistan’s Abkamari district in Badghis province, a known Taliban hot spot.
On Saturday, four Afghan security forces were killed in Qala-e-Naw, the capital of Badghis province, when Taliban fighters attacked a hotel.