Insurgents Try to Storm Afghan Government Building

KABUL, Afghanistan-- Taliban insurgents tried to storm a government building in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, setting off a firefight that killed at least six people, police said.

Gen. Dawlat Khan Zadran, police chief of Paktika province, said four insurgents attempted to take over the government building in Sharan, the provincial capital, about 100 miles south of Kabul.

The attackers and two policemen were killed in the ensuing firefight, he said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said it involved multiple targets. In a statement emailed to journalists, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the governor's office, the provincial reconstruction team and the intelligence headquarters were all hit.

Zadran, however, said the attack was confined to one building.

Paktika province borders Pakistan and is one of the main routes for Taliban fighters infiltrating into eastern Afghanistan from their sanctuaries across the border. It is also one of the main strongholds of the Al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, which has been blamed for a series of spectacular attacks, including suicide bombings inside Kabul.

Elsewhere, a joint Afghan and coalition raid killed seven suspected insurgents and captured 30 in Balkh province, 180 miles north of Kabul. A military statement said the guerrillas used rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire to engage the security force. Caches of homemade explosives, pressure-plate bombs, weapons and ammunition also were seized.

And an explosion in Kunar province killed 2 Afghan soldiers, military spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said. Six soldiers and four civilians were killed in the blast.

In a separate development, officials said the U.S. and NATO are continuing to reorient their entire supply network to the so-called Northern Distribution Network through Russia and Central Asia, rather than through Pakistan, which served as the main conduit for the logistics chain in the past.

Pakistan shut down the alliance's main transit routes from the port of Karachi in November in response to a NATO air attack on a Pakistani border post that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

About 85 percent of military fuel supplies is now going through the northern route, said a U.S. official who could not be identified under standing rules. And nearly a third of other supplies that used to arrive through Pakistan are now using the alternate route.

For most of the 10-year war in Afghanistan, 90 percent of supplies shipped to the international force came through Pakistan, via the port of Karachi. But over the past three years, road and rail shipments from NATO's European members via Central Asia have expanded, and before the border incident accounted for more than half of all overland deliveries.