Taliban militants stormed an Afghan court yesterday, killing at least 44 people in a bid to free insurgents standing trial, officials said, in the deadliest attack for more than a year.
Militants disguised as soldiers tried unsuccessfully to free suspected Taliban members in capital of the Farah province, Afghan officials said.
The Taliban said they were behind the attack in Farah, which borders Iran.
The multiple bomb and gun assault will raise further questions about the Afghans' ability to secure the country as Nato winds down its combat mission in the war-torn country by the end of next year.
"I can confirm that 34 civilians, six army and four policemen have been killed and 91 people, the majority of them civilians, have been injured," Najib Danish, interior ministry deputy spokesman, told AFP.
"Nine attackers have also been killed."
The death toll was the highest in Afghanistan from a single attack since a Shia Muslim shrine was bombed in Kabul in December 2011, killing 80 people.
Wakil Ahmad, a doctor at Farah hospital, said medics were treating scores of wounded including two judges and one court prisoner.
Abdul Rahman Zhawandon, spokesman for the governor of Farah, said the area was sealed off as firing continued through the day and some attackers had also entered a Kabul Bank office attached to the court building.
The governor's compound was around 200 metres away from the scene of attack, an AFP reporter said.
The Taliban insurgency has raged since a 2001 US-led invasion ousted their five-year regime from Kabul.
The militia has increasingly widened its attacks outside its main powerbases in the east and south, where Nato forces have focused their attention, to other areas such as Farah which borders Iran.
Nato combat troops are due to pull out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, leaving responsibility for security to Afghan security forces, but there are fears that the violence will increase with their departure.