Taliban claims attack on guesthouse in Afghan capital

Four attackers killed after heavy gunfire and blasts heard during assault on guesthouse hosting foreigners in Kabul.

Afghanistan militia
Teams of Afghan security forces have been deployed to the Wazir Akbar Khan area [EPA]

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for an overnight attack on a guesthouse in the diplomatic enclave of the Afghan capital that ended after a stand-off with government forces.

The interior ministry said the fighters had been armed with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and other weapons. All four attackers were killed and no other casualties were reported.

Earlier on Tuesday, security forces had been deployed to the Wazir Akbar Khan area after heavy gunfire and a series of explosions were heard.

Al Jazeera’s Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul, quoted police as saying that a suicide bomber detonated a bomb, then gunfire erupted as security forces shot at suspects in a “complex” attack which appeared to involve several targets.

More than a dozen explosions were heard in the space of an hour.

Most of the blasts had sounded like rockets, but several more powerful explosions could have been suicide bombings, an Afghan security source told Reuters news agency. 

The manager of the guesthouse, owned by the family of Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, said all guests were in safe rooms and no one was hurt.

“[The guesthouse] is very well fortified. After one or two initial explosions, our guards started firing on attackers who were unable to get inside,” manager Beizhan told AFP by telephone from inside the guesthouse.

Nationwide attacks

Earlier on Tuesday, Taliban fighters attacked a police headquarters in southern Afghanistan, killing 20 security personnel and seizing three army checkpoints.

Glasse said fighting occurred in three areas of Helmand province, with clashes in the districts of Sangin, Musa Qala and Nawzad.

“In Nawzad, the standoff was particularly difficult and went on for hours, with the Taliban taking three army checkpoints and surrounding the district’s headquarters,” she said.

“At least 20 army and police officers have been killed in that attack and local officials have called for reinforcements.”

Thirteen of the victims were police officers and seven were soldiers.

Fighting was also reported in the southern province of Kandahar on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, in the eastern province of Wardak, four suicide bombers attacked a local court, with all four of the assailants reported killed, along with two police officers.

The Taliban has launched a wave of attacks around the country since the withdrawal of foreign troops last year.

The group claimed responsibility for an attack on a Kabul guesthouse earlier this month that left 14 people dead, including nine foreigners.

According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, in the first three months of 2015, civilian casualties from ground fighting increased by eight percent on the same period last year.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies