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44 killed in 9-hour firefight at Afghan government buildings

By Ben Brumfield and Masoud Popalzai, CNN
April 3, 2013 -- Updated 2355 GMT (0755 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Militants are dressed like government soldiers
  • Insurgents began the attack with explosives
  • Afghan government forces engaged the insurgents
  • At least 44 people were killed in nine-hour firefight

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Insurgents wearing Afghan National Army uniforms killed at least 44 people and wounded nearly 100 others Wednesday in a nearly nine-hour attack on Afghan government buildings in the southwestern province of Farah, said Mohammad Akram Ekhpelwak, the province's governor.

The firefight has ended. Of the dead, 34 are civilians and 10 are Afghan security forces, according to Ekhpelwak. Nine armed attackers are dead, he added.

The attackers drove army vehicles to gain access to the area, said police chief Noor Agha Kantoz.

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The militants began their attack by detonating a vehicle laden with explosives, said Abdul Rahman Ezhwandai, a spokesman for the governor.

The blast wrecked the targeted buildings and others nearby in the capital city of Farah. The main targets appeared to be the courthouse and the attorney general's office.

Kantoz said that two suicide attackers detonated explosives while storming the buildings.

Soldiers from the Afghan National Army engaged the enemy, killing at least two, he said. They continue to battle fighters who have taken cover in the courthouse.

The wounded have been taken to a local hospital, Ekhpelwak said.

CNN's Masoud Popalzai reported from Kabul; CNN's Ben Brumfield reported from Atlanta.

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