Two separate suicide and gun attacks on government forces in Afghanistan left nearly 50 dead and more than 200 wounded, officials said Tuesday, the latest devastating assault on beleaguered security forces.
The Taliban claimed the most deadly of the two assaults, a coordinated attack on police in the southeast Afghan city of Gardez that left hospital officials calling for blood donations and desperate scenes as relatives queued for news of their loved ones after the hours-long gun battle.
A separate ambush blamed on the Taliban in the neighboring province of Ghazni on Tuesday killed 15 security officials with 12 wounded on a bloody day for government forces.
The assaults are a fresh blow as militants step up their offensives across Afghanistan, with security forces already beset by corruption, desertions and suffering shocking casualties over the past year.
“The hospital is overwhelmed and we call on people to donate blood,” said Shir Mohammad Karimi, deputy health director in Gardez.
Doctors and nurses rushed to attend to the wounded women, children, and police filling the corridors where some bodies also lay. Outside, university students formed a queue to donate blood, an AFP photographer said.
The attack, claimed by the Taliban in a tweet, began when two suicide car bombs blew up near the training center, which is close to the Paktia police headquarters, making way for the gunmen to start their assault, the interior ministry and local police said.
“Most of the victims are civilians who had come to the police headquarters to get their passports and national IDs,” according to a statement from the Paktia governor s office.
A student at a nearby university who was in class at the time of the attack said he heard “a big boom” which caused the building to shake and windows shatter.