Kabul: Three suicide attackers on Thursday blew up vehicles packed with explosives at the gates of a government compound in southern Afghanistan, the opening salvo of an hours-long fight that left at least 17 people dead, authorities said.

The trio of nearly simultaneous attacks in Uruzgan province was the latest in an uptick of violence in the volatile south that has weakened the government's grip on the Taliban's heartland since the July 12 killing of President Hamid Karzai's powerful half brother in neighbouring Kandahar.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assaults, which targeted the governor's house, police headquarters and a third office used by a well-known private security company official in the provincial capital of Tarin Kot.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said a total of six suicide bombers conducted the attacks.

Initial reports said seven explosions went off, but it was not clear what caused them all, provincial spokesman Milad Ahmad Mudasir said.

Khan Agha Miakhail, the director of the hospital in Tarin Kot, said the 17 killed included 10 children, a policeman and two women, and 37 other people were wounded.

The attack came a day after a suicide bomber killed the Kandahar mayor, Ghulam Haider Hamidi, deepening a power vacuum in the wake of the slaying of the president's half brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai.

In other violence on Thursday, a NATO service member was killed in a roadside bombing in eastern Afghanistan, raising the total international death toll so far this month to 45, according to an AP tally.