The Taliban stormed a government compound in central Afghanistan early on Thursday, triggering an hours-long gunbattle that killed 15, including three top local officials, before they drove Afghan forces out.

The blistering attack in the Khuja Omari district was the latest insurgent assault in Ghazni province, which is now largely under Taliban control. The Taliban planted mines to prevent government reinforcements from coming to help and quickly took responsibility for the attack.

The insurgent group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told The Associated Press over the telephone that after the attack in Khuja Omari — not far from the provincial capital also called Ghazni — all security posts in the district were under Taliban control. The district center, however, is still in government hands.

The province of Ghazni is located south of Kabul province, the seat of the country’s capital, Kabul, and lies along a key route. Travel by road between the capital and southern Kandahar province, a traditional Taliban heartland, is considered dangerous because of large swaths that are now under insurgent control.

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