|The attack in Kabul targeted the country’s main army training centre [AFP]|
At least 10 people have been killed after Taliban fighters launched attacks in Kabul and in the Afghan northern province of Kunduz.
Sunday’s attacks, which Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Kabul said “took place almost simultaneously”, came as the death toll for foreign troops in Afghanistan hit 700 in 2010, by far the deadliest year of the near decade-long war.
The dead included policemen and soldiers, said Hashem Ahelbarra , adding that a senior militia commander in Kunduz was seriously injured.
“Two susicide bombers were on their way to attack a heavily guarded army camp on Jalalabad road and they were intercepted by police,” our correspondent said, referring to the Kabul attack.
“There was an exchange of gunfire for sometime and one of the Taliban suicide bombers managed to blow himself up near a bus [and] the other was killed by police. Four soldiers were injured and a civilian was also injured.”
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault, the first major attack in the Afghan capital since May, when six foreign troops were killed by a large suicide car bomb.
In Kunduz, five Afghan soldiers and police were killed in the attack by three suicide bombers. The province had been visited a day earlier by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.
The Afghan defence ministry said four suicide bombers attacked an army training centre. Two blew themselves up at the entrance to the compound, but a gunbattle raged all morning with two others who got inside, a Reuters witness said.
Smoke and flames were visible from buildings in the area, and Afghan and foreign forces rushed to the site.
Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, said in a statement that the the attacks were a “major and unforgiving crime …[by] Afghaninstan’s enemies opposing the strengthening of the Afghan security forces”.
The grim milestone for foreign troop deaths was reached after a member of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was killed overnight by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan.
ISAF gave no other details of the incident.
A total of 521 foreign troops were killed in 2009, previously the worst year of the war, but operations against the Taliban-led campaign have intensified over the past 18 months.
At least 2,270 foreign troops have been killed since 2001, according to figures kept by the Reuters news agency and monitoring website www.iCasualties.org, roughly two-thirds of them Americans.
Afghan troops and police have suffered far higher casualties, but the government does not release exact figures. Civilian casualties are also at record levels this year.
A war strategy review released by Barack Obama, the US president, last week found NATO-led forces were making headway against the Taliban, but serious challenges remained.
The Taliban are at their strongest since they were ousted from power in 2001 by US-backed forces for refusing to hand over al-Qaeda fighters, including Osama bin Laden.
They have spread out of traditional heartlands in the south and east over the past two years, bringing violence into once peaceful areas of the north and west.