Militants kill one in attack on interior ministry in Kabul

"The attackers have all been killed by security forces between the first and second security perimeter", Kabul police chief Daud Amin said.

One policeman was killed and five were wounded in the attack, according to the ministry. Two militants then detonated suicide bombs, allowing the others to pass through a gate at the ministry. The Amaq statement did not provide the names or specify the number of attackers.

More than 50 senior Taliban commanders were killed in an artillery strike in Afghanistan's southern province of Helmand, a USA military spokesman said on Wednesday, as fighting continued across the country.

Police also said they had found a vehicle stuffed with explosives and guns at Kabul's global airport, which is near to the interior ministry, on Wednesday.

The U.S. military said the May 24 meeting involved commanders from different Afghan provinces, including neighboring Farah, where Taliban fighters briefly threatened to overrun the provincial capital this month.

Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for the US -led coalition in Afghanistan, said a weapon system known as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, which is capable of firing GPS-guided rockets, destroyed a command-and-control position that was a known meeting place for high-level Taliban leaders.

The Western-backed government in Kabul has been struggling to fend off the Taliban and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops in 2014.

Another early morning attack struck the capital of Kandahar province, when a suicide auto bomb blast killed three civilians and wounded 13 others, a provincial official told reporters.

Unfortunately, three national police and three traffic police were also killed.

The Taliban and a local affiliate of the Islamic State group have launched several attacks in the capital, Kabul, in recent months, killing hundreds of people. The attackers did not manage to enter the main compound. No group immediately claimed responsibility.

In the northern province of Takhar, Taliban fighters in the Dasht-e Qala district centre captured the governor's compound and police headquarters on Wednesday but heavy fighting was continuing, police spokesman Khalil Aseer said. It is unclear who carried out the attack, though the southern province is the Taliban's historic heartland.

Provincial cities have also been hit as the Taliban has stepped up fighting across the country since they announced the beginning of their annual spring offensive in April.

The attack was a reminder of the challenges facing USA -backed Afghan forces even after 16 years of war, including in the capital Kabul.

  • Tracy Klein