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At least 6 killed, dozens wounded in firefight with gunmen at attorney's office in Afghanistan

At least 6 killed, dozens wounded in firefight with gunmen at attorney's office in Afghanistan
At least six people were killed and as many as 63 injured, according to varying reports, after gunmen stormed a state attorney's office in northern Afghanistan.

The six-hour siege has now ended and all five gunmen were killed by the Afghan National Security Forces, which had the area surrounded.

The district attorney, who was among the staff inside the building, has since been freed, but one top security official is said to be among the dead, as well as two police officers. Twenty-six government officials were injured in the attack.

Initial information showed "that armed men entered the provincial Appeals Court in Mazar-i-Sharif today," the acting police chief for the Balkh province, Abdul Raziq Qaderi, told AFP.

"Gunmen exchanged fire with Afghan security forces and the attack is ongoing," he said. There were reports of four huge explosions at the start. Nine people were almost immediately wounded in the firefight and taken to a local hospital. There are further reports that a police spokesman was among the wounded as well.

"Most of the nine wounded people brought to the hospital are prosecutors and court staff,” the deputy head of the hospital told AFP. Another report from Afghanistan’s Pajhwok news agency, however, claimed that five people were killed and 20 injured. Later local reports indicated that the former district chief of the Balkh province was among the deceased.

Smoke could be seen billowing from the attorney's office, as reports of the assailants throwing grenades at police emerged.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

"Breaking News: This noon suicide [attackers] stormed office of the attorney and appeal court of Balkh province,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement. “Heavy casualties for enemy, battle continues."

On Wednesday, one US soldier was killed and two injured in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad in an attack by an Afghan soldier at a regional governor’s compound. The attack, which ended with the Afghan soldier being killed, happened shortly after a visit by a US embassy official.