News - Afghanistan
Taliban insurgents Monday launched an early morning attack in west Kabul to take over a government building, the second insurgent attack in Afghanistan's capital in a week.
Five insurgents armed with Kalashnikovs, grenades and suicide vests began their attack around 6:00AM near the Kabul traffic department building in Deh Mazang Square, west Kabul, according to Kabul police chief Gen. Ayoub Salangi.
It ended more than eight hours later with all five insurgents dead, three traffic police killed, and 12 others wounded – eight civilians and four security guards, Salangi said.
The attack was claimed by the Taliban in a text message to media outlets shortly after 7:00AM.
Local security officials suggest the insurgents may have chosen the four-storey traffic building to use as a base to fire rocket-propelled grenades at the nearby Afghan Border Police headquarters.
There are mixed accounts of how the attack unfolded. Some reports said a bomb exploded around 6:00AM and insurgents engaged in a gunfight with the guards at the entrance to the building before storming it.
Two insurgents were killed in this first exchange of gunfire before they could detonate their suicide vests, according to the Ministry of Interior (MOI) spokesman Sediq Seddiqi.
However, some officials and media reports indicate that at least one of the bombers managed to detonate his vest judging by the explosions heard at the time.
At 7:00AM a massive explosion was heard across the capital with initial information saying this was a car bomb. However, an MOI official later told TOLOnews that the large explosion heard at that time was a missile fired by insurgents.
The remaining insurgents made it into the traffic department itself, holding off security forces with gunfire and grenades for the next seven hours.
Nato special forces from Norway were at the scene supporting the Afghan Crisis Response Unit. A police official told TOLOnews that the special forces were not assisting in combat, but witnesses said they saw the Western troops firing at the building.
Helicopters were seen circling the area most of the morning, and a fire broke out in the top floor of the building.
The insurgents were eventually all dead – killed by the security forces who had entered the building, Salangi said around 2:30PM.
It was the second raid in Kabul city in less than a week, a sign that the insurgency is determined to continue its habit of staging attacks even as the government tries to entice the Taliban to negotiate for peace.
Six insurgents attacked the National Directorate of Security facility in Sedarat Square, but they never made it past the NDS gate.
Five of them were shot dead shortly after one of the insurgents detonated a car bomb intended to breach the NDS perimeter.
One NDS guard was killed and at least 17 more people including civilians were wounded. A second vehicle rigged with explosives was later found and defused.
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