KABUL, Afghanistan -- Suicide bombers attacked a police headquarters in eastern Afghanistan early Thursday, triggering a gun battle that left 10 officers and one civilian dead, officials said.
Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack in Jalalabad, a bustling city near the Pakistani border about 100 miles east of Kabul.
The incident began about 5:30 a.m. when a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb at the entrance to the first police district headquarters, said Hazrat Hussain Mashriqwal, a provincial police spokesman.
Six other attackers then stormed the compound and exchanged gunfire with police for several hours, Mashriqwal said. Fourteen police officers and several civilians were wounded.
Among the dead was the district police chief. Four of the attackers were gunned down and the three others were killed in explosions, Mashriqwal said.
Sediq Seddiqi, spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry, extended prayers to those who were killed.
“This morning Jalalabad police bravery repelled futile attack by enemy of Afghans,” Sediqqi wrote on Twitter.
The Taliban have vowed to disrupt a national election April 5 in which Afghans will select their next president.
The attack came on the same day as Great Britain closed its longstanding provincial reconstruction team in southern Helmand province, a former Taliban stronghold that has been a key focus of counterinsurgency efforts by the U.S.-led military coaltion. British forces have ceased humanitarian and development projects or handed them over to Afghan control, part of an accelerating transition by the United States and allies to wind down their troop presence by year’s end.
“It is right that the Afghans take increasing responsibility for their future prosperity and security and we will continue to support them as they do so,” the British Foreign Office said in a statement.
Baktash is a Times special correspondent. Times staff writer Bengali reported from Mumbai, India.