Afghan prez to host peace conference in spring

KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai says an action plan for reintegrating Taliban fighters into society and talking with the insurgency's top leaders will be crafted at a spring peace conference in Kabul.

At a news conference Monday with U.S. Secretary Robert Gates, Karzai says Afghans from all sections of the nation and all walks of life will be attending the so-called jirga.

He says the government is extending an offer to reconcile with members of the Taliban who renounce ties to al-Qaida or other terrorist networks and agree to embrace the Afghan constitution.

Afghan Education Minister Farooq Wardak, who is working to set up the meeting, told members of the parliament on Monday that 1,400 people will attend the three-day jirga, which will start on April 29.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

KABUL (AP) — Afghan police backed up by U.S. troops killed two gunmen who detonated a bomb in the eastern city of Khost on Monday and then holed up in an unused police building, an official said.

The attackers were the only people to die in the shootout, but one police officer and an Afghan army soldier were wounded, said provincial Gov. Taher Khan Saberi.

Acting chief of police in Khost, Yaqob Khan, said the attackers set off an explosion, then stormed into a building next to a police station. Officers and troops surrounded the attackers and fired on them with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades as the gunmen returned fire, Khan said, adding that U.S. troops from a nearby base rushed to the scene to assist.

Officials all referred to the men as suicide attackers, indicating they meant to die in the second round of explosions.

The attackers — who appeared to follow recent insurgent pattern of an explosion followed by attackers storming a building — appeared to have mistakenly targeted an abandoned building, Khan said. He said the intended target may have been the police station next door.

Saberi said the building that was targeted was actually owned by police but was empty.