Taliban militants dressed in police uniforms blew themselves up after being caught trying to sneak through a checkpoint Thursday in eastern Afghanistan, killing five people, authorities said.
Police at the checkpoint in Paktika province's Yayakhil district became suspicious of the men and told them to stop, said provincial police chief Dawlit Khan Zadran. The men refused, triggering an hour-long gunbattle during which two attackers were fatally shot and the remaining four detonated vests rigged with explosives, Zadran said.
Two civilians and three policemen were killed in the blasts, and another three police officers were wounded.
Zadran said the men were on their way to attack a district government office.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack.
Elsewhere, a roadside bomb exploded Thursday in Helmand province's Musa Qala district, killing seven civilians, five of them children, said Fareed Ahmad, spokesman for the provincial police. Another blast then hit a group of local militia heading to the scene to help, killing one person. Two other people, a civilian and a militiaman, were wounded in the attacks, Ahmed said.
The Taliban launch a fresh offensive every spring as snows melt and the weather warms across Afghanistan, making both travel and fighting easier. It normally leads to a surge of militant attacks as they attempt to retake lost territory and intimidate the government.
Associated Press writer Mirwais Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.