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Afghan official survives insurgent attack

Alluddin Khan/associated press

US soldiers stood outside the governor’s compound in Kandahar, where two insurgents set off a gun battle.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Insurgents with small pistols hidden in their shoes managed to force their way through a security checkpoint and make it to the threshold of the governor’s office in Kandahar on Saturday before being shot and killed by guards.

The provincial governor, Tooryalai Wesa, was not hurt, but two of his guards were killed.

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The attackers hid the pistols under the soles of their feet inside their shoes as they went through an X-ray scanner at the entrance to the governor’s compound, according to an account by the governor and the provincial police chief, Brigadier General Abdul Raziq. The guards at the checkpoint did not ask the men to remove their shoes.

“We can’t take the shoes off the people who are coming to visit the governor, nor take off their turbans and let them visit the governor, bare feet and heads,’’ Raziq said. “This is a violation of our culture, and the enemies want to distance the government from civilians by using such tactics.’’

Turbans have been used on several occasions to hide bombs, including in an attack that killed the mayor of Kandahar and another that killed the leader of the High Peace Council in September. Numerous other ruses have been employed in attacks on officials in Kandahar, including dressing as women or as police officers, as the attackers who killed Raziq’s predecessor did.

On Saturday, the two attackers, who appeared to be in their early 20s, went through the scanner, where two guards were on duty, one of them armed.

One attacker wrested a gun from the armed guard, and both guards were killed before the insurgents charged into the compound, according to the officials’ account.

Wesa was in his private office at the time but fled through a back door to another part of the compound. “He had a very narrow escape,’’ Raziq said.

After a 20-minute firefight, the attackers made it to the governor’s outer office, where visitors usually wait before seeing him, and were shot and killed on the threshold of the inner office.

Wesa said one attacker had visited his office the previous week to ask for help in winning the release of a brother detained by the Americans at Bagram Air Base. “His goal was to examine the area to see how to manage to carry out the attack,’’ he said.

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