KANDAHAR - Afghan police and soldiers put down a weekend offensive by Taliban militants in Kandahar that saw 23 rebels killed, government officials said.
The Interior Ministry said the assault began Saturday from a Taliban staging center at a hotel, the Los Angeles Times reported. Militants tried to storm the regional governor's residence and a federal intelligence agency office.
There was no report on the number of injuries, although officials said there were "dozens," including unarmed women and children.
Unidentified U.S. military officials told the Times most of the security response was by Afghanistan's own forces, which is seen as promising as the United States and NATO allies seek to wind down the intervention that began in 2002. Kandahar is the second-largest city in the country after the capital Kabul, but is considered a sacred spiritual center by fundamentalist Muslims — the Taliban included. Militants have stepped up attacks in the city in recent weeks.
Interior Ministry spokesman Zemari Bashary told reporters national security forces are under instructions to minimize civilian casualties and property damage in the battle against militants. (UPI)