KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Two Taliban militants hiding small guns in their shoes slipped into a provincial governor's compound in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, setting off a fierce gunbattle that left two security guards and both attackers dead.
Also, a roadside bomb killed 10 Afghan security forces in eastern Wardak province, officials said.
In the attack on the governor of Kandahar province, the assailants made it through a pair of security checks without their weapons being detected before a guard at the last check — in the reception room for the governor's office — noticed something suspicious and stopped them, said Gov. Tooryalai Wesa.
The militants then pulled out the guns hidden in their shoes, shot the guards and took their weapons, Wesa said.
That sparked a gunbattle with security forces that lasted about 30 minutes and left both attackers dead, said Parwiz Najib, a spokesman for the governor. One guard was wounded in the fighting.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack.
The assault is another reminder of the insurgents' ability to strike in even some of the most secure areas of the country. Earlier this month, militants launched a large-scale coordinated attack on the diplomatic center of the capital, Kabul, and three other cities in which 36 insurgents and 11 others were killed.
Wesa said he was in his office meeting with constituents when he heard shooting out in the reception room.
"There was an explosion," Wesa said, but he did not know whether the blast was caused by grenades or something else.
He and his guests escaped out a back door to the press office, where they waited for the fighting to stop.
Wesa said the assailants came under the pretext of asking for him to intercede on behalf of relatives that had been detained — a common request.
"The insurgents are not stupid. They had hidden very small guns in their shoes and at two checkpoints they didn't catch them," Wesa said.
Wesa's office said in a statement that it was the ninth attack targeting the governor in the past three years.
Police also discovered two cars parked outside the compound that had been rigged with explosives, apparently ready to be set off if there was a surge of people out into the street, Wesa said. The police defused those bombs, he said.
The roadside bomb in Wardak province's Chak district killed 10 members of the Afghan security forces driving in a pickup truck, officials said, speaking anonymously because they were not authorized to release the information.
The dead were members of the Afghan Local Police, a government-sponsored militia that works alongside the Afghan army and the national police.
Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez and Chris Blake contributed to this report from Kabul.