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Militants launch deadly attack on Afghan governor's compound

By David Ariosto, CNN
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Suicide attack on Afghan compound
  • NEW: 37 wounded in Sunday's attack, officials said
  • NEW: Attack leaves 25 people, including six militants, dead, officials say
  • NEW: An ISAF spokesman condemns the attack

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- At least six militants -- strapped with explosives-laden vests -- stormed a provincial governor's compound in central eastern Afghanistan Sunday, killing at least 19 other people, officials said.

The six militants also died, bringing the death toll to 25.

As many as 37 others were wounded as militants, one of whom was disguised as a police officer, battled security guards and police in and around the high-security complex that houses Parwan governor Abdul Basir Salangi, according to provincial council head Ahmad Zaki Zahid and Mer Alam, a local hospital spokesman.

Salangi is alive and the gun-battle between insurgents and security forces has ended, said Roshan Khalid, the governor's spokesman.

Afghan suicide attack

Five of the militants detonated their vests and the sixth was gunned down by police.

One of the attackers -- riding atop a motorbike -- detonated his vest at the building's main security gate, allowing the remaining militants to enter the compound in an attack the Taliban has since taken responsibility for.

NATO gunships circled overhead as Afghan security forces responded to the strike, according to Capt. Justin Brockhoff, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Assistance Security Force.

But the helicopters, he said, did not open fire.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned Sunday's attack, saying 14 civilians had been killed along with five other police officers.

"This is another example of the despicable behavior by insurgents," said Rear Admiral Hal Pittman, an ISAF spokesman. "Violent attacks that wound and kill civilians are not acceptable in any religion or culture."

The strike is the latest in a series of high-profile Taliban attacks in the group's near decade-long war against NATO and Afghan forces. It comes just as international forces are drawing down and transferring security responsibilities over to local and national control.

Suicide attacks -- along with roadside bombs -- have increasingly become a hallmark of Taliban-style strikes.

Last month, the governor of Uruzgan province narrowly escaped an insurgent attack after militants penetrated his compound.

NATO helicopters also supported local security forces in responding to that incident, which left 19 people dead and 37 wounded.

Ten children and a local journalist were among those killed in that attack.

Also last month, the mayor of neighboring Kandahar City was killed in a suicide attack.

High-profile assassinations in recent weeks have targeted allies of President Hamid Karzai's government. Kabul is still reeling from the July slaying of the president's half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, who was reportedly killed at the hand of a longtime bodyguard.

The Taliban took responsibility for his death, though reports have since circulated suggesting his killing may have been the result of the gunman's personal grievance.

CNN's Matiullah Mati contributed to this report