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Central & South Asia

Kabul blasts lead to hours-long gunfight

Taliban claim responsibility for suicide blasts and eight hours of fighting that killed one police and two attackers.
Last Modified: 21 Jan 2013 10:24

At least three people - one police and two attackers - have been killed in an ongoing attack in Western Kabul. Another 16 have been injured after gunmen and suicide bombers attacked the Kabul traffic police compound.

A gunbattle is ongoing between security forces and heavily armed assailants.

"A group of terrorists, two or three or four, tried to enter the traffic police building, Mohammad Zahir, of the Kabul police, said on Monday.

"Two of the bombers were shot dead at the entrance and one has likely entered the building and is shooting sporadically. Our security forces are in the area."

A witness said the top floor of the building was on fire. He said the initial explosion was "very very big -- it was massive", and was followed by several other explosions and gunfire.

Taliban say the border police was their target [Reuters]

"There are firefighter trucks, ambulances and police all over the place. The gunfire comes from that direction and the building's top floors are on fire," he said.

Al Jazeera's Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul, said at least two of the rooms in the traffic police compound were on fire, with two attackers still in the building.

Local media reported the attackers were believed to be hiding under a staircase in the four-storey building.

Sediq Sediqqi, ministry of interior spokesman, speaking to Al Jazeera from Kabul, said the Taliban had been contained and that police were "going floor-by-floor" to insure no other attackers remained.

Sediqqi cited "slight" wounds among police forces and the lack of casualties so far, as a sign that the Afghan National Police are "stronger; we can really contain their damage and give them a quicker response", he said.

A spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, ISAF, said: "Afghan security forces are doing a great job pressuring the insurgents. ISAF will continue to train, advise, assist the ANSF ... [The] Taliban are losing this fight, are growing weaker. Many are leaving the fight because they do not want to fight their Afghan brothers."

The attack site, near the Deh Mazang area of the Afghan capital, is also near the offices of the border police.

The Taliban have told Al Jazeera their target was the border police offices next door to the traffic police compound.

Our correspondent said the initial attack occurred just before dawn.

"A time when the streets of Kabul and the building itself would be quite empty," which would be an advantage if the group intended to use the traffic police compound as a staging site for another attack on the border police.

Police sources told Glasse one of the explosions was caused by a car bomb.

Monday's blasts come only days after an attack on the headquarters of the National Directorate of Security, the Afghan spy agency, in Kabul.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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