An Afghan security man inspects damages after clashes between the Afghan police and Taliban militants at a police station in the city of Kandahar, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 8, 2015
Allauddin Khan—AP
Updated: December 9, 2015 9:56 AM ET | Originally published: December 9, 2015 2:07 AM EST

Taliban fighters attacked an airport complex in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Tuesday, leaving at least 37 people dead.

The heavily fortified military compound is used by Afghan, U.S. and NATO forces who maintain a presence in the area, the BBC reports. According to the Wall Street Journal, 2,600 coalition troops and approximately 7,000 defense contractors remained at the airbase as of early 2015.

Officials said the attackers targeted residential areas within the compound and battled with Afghan forces after breaking past the first gate of the complex, reports AFP. According to al-Jazeera, a military officer’s family was taken hostage.

Raziq Shirzai, the Afghan air force commander in the country’s south, told the BBC that casualties included civilians.

It was the second attack in less than 24 hours carried out by the Taliban in Kandahar after insurgents stormed a police station on Monday.

The attack comes on the eve of a regional conference in Pakistan, due to be attended by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, which is aimed at kick-starting peace talks with the militants. The Taliban has been carrying out an increasing number of attacks in Afghanistan since international coalition forces pulled back their presence last year.

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