KANDAHAR - Two bodyguards and two suicide attackers were killed in a gun battle inside the governor’s compound in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province Saturday, an official said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying their main target was the provincial Governor Tooryalai Weesa.

The insurgents somehow made it through the tight security at the compound with small pistols hidden in their sandals, Weesa said, and a gun fight ensued with guards that lasted for about 30 minutes.

“After killing two bodyguards, the attackers seized their rifles and opened fire on other bodyguards, injuring one,” the governor told AFP, confirming that he was not hurt in the incident.

The attackers were eventually killed, Kandahar government spokesman Zalmay Ayobi told AFP.

Security forces also found a vehicle laden with explosives abandoned outside the compound.

Kandahar province is the heartland of hardline Taliban insurgents and has been one of the hardest hit in 10 years of war in which NATO troops are supporting the government of President Hamid Karzai.

Condemning the attack, Weesa said the Taliban were resorting to “new ways and tactics to hurt the government and the people” but reiterated that “they will not succeed”.

The attack on governor’s compound comes a day after an American soldier, two Afghan troops and an interpreter died when an Afghan soldier opened fire at them in the latest in a series of so-called green-on-blue attacks in Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar.

On April 15, squads of suicide attackers took up positions in the nation’s capital Kabul, firing on embassies, government buildings and foreign military bases for 18 hours before they were all killed.

Afghan officials and US Ambassador in Kabul blamed the Haqqani Network, a close ally of the Taliban for the attacks on Kabul, considered to have been the biggest assault on the capital in 10 years of war.

Apart from Kabul, the eastern capitals of Paktia, Logar and Nangarhar provinces also came under attack, with a total of 51 people, including 36 militants, killed.

Separately, an official said 10 policemen were killed after a roadside bomb ripped through their patrol vehicle in central Afghanistan.

The bomb struck their pickup truck in the restive Chak district of Maidan Wardak province on Friday, ministry of interior spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told AFP.

“Yesterday afternoon a local police vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb that unfortunately left all ten local police dead,” he said.

The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but put the death toll at seven.

“The roadside bomb was planted by our mujahideen in Chak district of Wardak yesterday,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.

The Afghan local police are a government-sponsored militia force that works alongside the Afghan army and the national police.

Taliban militants have recently increased their attacks on Afghan officials and security forces.