A plume of smoke rises from a building in northern Afghanistan during a Taliban attackImage copyright Reuters
Image caption The attack began with a suicide bombing

At least seven people have been killed and dozens wounded after Taliban fighters attacked a police headquarters in northern Afghanistan, officials say.

A suicide bomber driving a Humvee loaded with explosives started the assault in the city of Pul-e-Khumri.

Clashes between gunmen and security services followed.

More than 50 were wounded. Women and children were among those killed, an Afghan health official said.

The Taliban, which wants strict Islamic rule in the country, said it carried out the attack.

The group carries out frequent attacks on Afghan forces and now controls more territory than at any point since its toppling in 2001.

Officials say armed Taliban fighters entered the police headquarters after an explosion at its gate before firing on Afghan security services inside.

Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi says two Taliban fighters were shot dead while efforts were being made to “eliminate” any remaining militants.

The group is known to use armoured vehicles laden with explosives to target military and police facilities.

The militants have been holding peace talks with a US envoy in Qatar since October to end the long-running conflict.

Last week, the Taliban rejected a ceasefire agreement proposed by President Ashraf Ghani and Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for peace in the country.

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