Taliban insurgents armed with bombs, automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades attacked the Kandahar police headquarters on Saturday, in a bloody assault on the southern Afghan city that killed at least 21 people and wounded dozens more.
The afternoon raid showed that insurgents were still able to launch deadly strikes on heavily fortified government institutions, despite a surge in US troop numbers into Kandahar province, the Taliban's birthplace.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
Fifteen of those killed were Afghan police officers, said the provincial governor.
Insurgents first struck around noon, detonating a series of explosions that rocked the area near the provincial police headquarters.
Initial reports suggest a car bomb exploded outside the police compound, and then immediately afterwards two suicide bombers tried to storm the headquarters but blew themselves up outside the perimeter wall, according to Nato officials in Kandahar.
Five militants fitted with suicide vests battled with police for several hours, said the interior ministry spokesman. Some occupied a multi-storey building housing a wedding hall across the street from the headquarters.