The Taliban has claimed responsibility for an attack on a building housing an international aid organisation in Afghanistan's capital Kabul, which provoked a deadly firefight with security forces.

The siege began late on Monday night with a suicide car bombing close to a building belonging to Pamlarena, part of the charity CARE International, which was then stormed by a group of armed men.

In a statement to Al Jazeera late on Tuesday, the Taliban said its fighters had targeted a secret intelligence office of "invaders", referring to foreign forces.

Earlier on Tuesday, Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry, said police special forces had killed all three men involved in the overnight attack in the Shar-e Naw district of Kabul.

The interior ministry initially said one civilian had been killed but a later statement said only the attackers died in the gun battle.

In its statement, however, the Taliban said that five of its fighters were involved in the attack. The group also claimed that the building was being used by foreign forces to conduct attacks against it.

Overnight attack

Security forces blocked all roads leading to the Shar-e Naw neighbourhood throughout the operation to end the siege.

"Police special forces immediately reached the site of the attack and started rescuing people from the building," the interior ministry statement said in a statement. "Forty-two people who were trapped were evacuated by the security forces." 

In a statement on Tuesday, CARE said that "an armed group launched an attack on what is believed to have been an Afghan government compound located close to the Kabul office of CARE International".

It said the incident continued through to the early morning, "with damage sustained to the CARE compound.

"All CARE staff have been evacuated, are safe and are accounted for".

The area being home to several guest houses, many foreigners and diplomats reside there.

Double bombing kills dozens in Afghanistan's Kabul

Amnesty International, the human-rights group, on Tuesday termed the attack a "war crime".

"The attack by an armed group on the aid agency CARE International in Kabul is the deliberate targeting of civilians and constitutes a war crime," said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia director. 

"The cardinal rule of international humanitarian law is that parties to an armed conflict must never deliberately attack civilians." 

The attack on Pamlarena's offices started several hours after a double suicide bombing near the Afghan defence ministry killed at least 35 people and wounded more than 100 others.

An army general and two senior police commanders were among the dead, a defence ministry official said.

Another official said that the deputy head of President Ashraf Ghani's personal protection force was among those killed.

The Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attack on the defence ministry.

Surging violence

The Taliban's ability to conduct coordinated deadly attacks in Kabul has increased pressure on Ghani's government, which has struggled to reassure the population that it can guarantee security.

Two weeks ago, fighters attacked the American University in Kabul, killing 13 people.

At least 80 people were killed by a suicide bomber who targeted a demonstration on July 23 in an attack claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

Outside Kabul, the fighters have stepped up their military campaign, threatening Lashkar Gah, capital of the strategic southern province of Helmand, as well as Kunduz, the northern city they briefly took last year.


Source: Al Jazeera News and agencies