Taliban militants on Wednesday launched a massive offensive against the police headquarters and provincial government office in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, killing at least nine people.
According to provincial government spokesman Dawa Khan Meenapal, suicide bombers detonated a car bomb next to the police headquarters at around 11:30, and within minutes militants began firing on the provincial government office.
The gunfire between the security forces and the militants is ongoing, the spokesman said, adding that militants have occupied some buildings near the provincial government office, and firing from these buildings.
He said at least four civilians and five soldiers have been killed, and nine others wounded during the attack.
A total of 22 militants, including two suicide bombers have been killed in the fighting, he added.
Kandahar is one of the volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan with anti-government armed militant groups actively operating in a number of its districts, frequently carrying out insurgency attacks.
According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), overall civilian casualties in Afghanistan have increased as Taliban militants stepped up attacks across the country and continued to lay roadside bombs.
A report released by the UNAMA on Wednesday showed that more than 4,800 civilians have been killed or wounded in various armed conflicts during the past six months, a rise of 24 percent year on year.
Among the victims, the number of women and children killed or injured has increased significantly, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the overall deaths and injuries, said the UNAMA.