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Several Killed In Attack On Afghan Mosque


File photo of a bomb attack in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province on March 19.

Reports say several people have been killed in a gunfight between Afghan police and heavily armed militants holed up inside a mosque in southern Afghanistan.

It was not immediately clear if the gunmen were holding hostages inside the mosque as the gun battle was still ongoing in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province.

A security official said attackers "armed with RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] and guns tried to enter the governor's building in Lashkar Gah but were prevented by the police."

The official said the attackers were forced to enter a nearby mosque, and were exchanging fire with security forces.

Another security official said three people, including the head of the Ulema Council of Helmand, a top religious authority, were killed.

But the chief of Helmand's health department, Enayatullah Ghafari, gave a higher toll, saying six dead bodies including those of two policemen, had been brought to a local hospital.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but Taliban insurgents launched their spring offensive across Afghanistan late last month, stepping up attacks on government and foreign targets.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP
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