Officials in Afghanistan confirmed Sunday Taliban rockets hit a high-profile emergency security meeting in the troubled southeastern Ghazni province, wounding at least two soldiers and several civilians.
Afghan Defense Minister Tariq Shah Bahrami traveled to the provincial capital, also called Ghanzi, to chair the meeting to discuss deteriorating security in the province where insurgents have made significant advances during the past few days.
Taliban fighters fired several rockets at government buildings at around noon and one of them landed in the compound of the governor's office hosting the meeting, a provincial government spokesman told VOA.
Arif Noori said the attack wounded two soldiers of the Afghan National Army army and the rest of the rockets hit surrounding government buildings. Hospital officials confirmed to VOA the attack injured eight civilians and there were no fatalities.
A Taliban spokesman said the rocket attack disrupted the meeting and caused casualties, claiming American military commanders were also in attendance.
Taliban rebels on Saturday staged a coordinated assault targeting eight different locations in the province, which lies on the main highway linking the national capital of Kabul to southern Afghanistan.
The insurgents overran the headquarters of the Jaghato district and killed the commander of Ghani's special police force along with six other security personnel.
Insider attack killed American soldier
Sunday's violence came a day after NATO confirmed a U.S. soldier had been killed and two others wounded in what it called an "apparent insider attack" in a southern Afghan region. An investigation into the attacks as underway, the alliance said.
A Taliban spokesman later claimed in a statement the incident occurred at the airport in Tarinkot, capital of Uruzgan province, but he would not say whether the assailant was linked to the insurgency. Qari Yousaf Ahmadi merely asserted a "conscientious" Afghan soldier turned his gun on "American invaders", killing four of them and wounding three others.
Spokesmen for the insurgency in Afghanistan often issue death tolls that disagree with NATO information.
Insider attacks are incidents when Afghan security personnel turn on U.S. and NATO partners or their Afghan colleagues.
The NATO-led Resolute Support mission has been in Afghanistan since January 2015 to provide training, advice and assistance to Afghan security forces.The force of 16,000 troops includes service members from 39 NATO nations and allies.
Meanwhile, military officials have confirmed Afghan special forces, backed by hundreds of American partners, have captured an Islamic State stronghold in the eastern Nangarhar province next to the border with Pakistan.
The counterterrorism multi-pronged offensive targeted Gorgori village in the Deh Bala district, also known as Haska Mina, and killed more than 160 militants of IS's Afghan branch called Khorasan Province, officials told reporters.
There were no American or Afghan troop casualties during the 10-day operation, they said. U.S. military officials are quoted as saying IS was using the village as their main base to plan and stage attacks elsewhere in Afghanistan.
Nangarhar and adjoining Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan are where IS militants have set up basses.
Source: Voice of America