At least 18 people - 10 police, a civilian and seven insurgents - died and 14 others were wounded Thursday in a multi-pronged suicide attack on a police station in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, a police spokesman told Efe.

The early morning attack in the capital of Nangarhar province began with a vehicle-bomb blast outside a police station, followed by another explosion and an hours-long gun battle between the police and Taliban fighters.

"A police officer and nine other agents were killed, while 14 other people were wounded," regional police spokesman Hazrat Hussain Mashrigiwal said, adding that a civilian and seven attackers also perished.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, with spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid saying that more than a score of police died in the operation, Pajhwok Afghan News reported.

Taliban fighters regularly carry out suicide bombings and attacks with improvised explosive devices in their guerrilla war against Afghan and international forces. In practice, these actions cause a high number of civilian casualties.

On Tuesday, 15 civilians died in a suicide attack on a market in the northern city of Maymana.

The conflict in Afghanistan, which will hold presidential elections on April 5, is in one of its bloodiest phases since the 2002 U.S. invasion that drove the Taliban from power.

NATO troops are scheduled to complete their gradual withdrawal from the country in December 2014, when local forces will assume full responsibility for security nationwide. EFE