Militants have stormed a court and government offices in Afghanistan, killing at least 44 civilians and security force members. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, aimed at freeing insurgents.
The bomb and shooting attack took place on Wednesday morning in the western province of Farah, near the border with Iran.
Reports from Farah say an army check point, a court room and government offices were targeted, and that civilians, policemen and soldiers were killed.
Official sources said that 34 civilians had been killed along with six soldiers and four policemen. Militants were also reported to have been killed, with figures varying between nine and 19.
"The attackers shot their way in to several offices after a car bomb was exploded next to these buildings in the city center," said Abdul Rahman Yhowandai, a spokesman for the provincial governor. He said the area had been sealed off as fighting continued.
Provincial deputy governor Mohammad Younis Rasouli told the news agency Reuters that the courtroom was holding Taliban militants standing trial.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack, and said the insurgents standing trial had been freed.
NATO and international combat troops are preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014. The United States has launched a renewed push to conclude a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, but concerns are growing over how Afghan forces will manage the country's security on their own.
jr/hc (AFP, Reuters dpa)