KABUL: Four Indians were among the 15 people killed when Taliban bombers equipped with suicide vests and automatic rifles attacked a hotel and a
guesthouse in central Kabul Friday, officials said.
A series of explosions occurred at the City Centre shopping complex and the Safi Landmark hotel, about 300 metres from the Interior Ministry, said Abdul Ghafar Sayedzadar, a senior police official.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said by phone from an undisclosed location that five Taliban bombers attacked two compounds used by foreigners.
"Our two bombers have been killed and three others are still resisting", he said. "Around 100 foreigners are surrounded by our forces in one of the compounds."
His claim, however, was rejected by Sayedzadar, who said all the attackers were dead and the area was fully under the control of Afghan security forces, adding that 16 or 17 people were killed in the attack.
Siamak Herawi, a presidential spokesman, said four Indian nationals have been killed in bombings of their residence located in front of the shopping mall.
General Ahmad Zia Yaftali, chief doctor for the Afghan army, said 12 bodies have been taken to army hospitals and three to another hospital. "Eight Indians and one Pakistani national were among the wounded", he said.
Farid Rahid, a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, said more than 30 people were injured in the attack.
The private television channel, Tolo TV, said the attack targeted a guesthouse for Indians next to the shopping complex. Several people were killed, the report said.
A policeman at the scene said he saw four bodies being taken away from the guesthouse but could not confirm whether the victims were Indians or Afghans.
A reporter present at the scene said the police surrounded the shopping complex after a series of explosions and an exchange of heavy gunfire took place.
Another policeman said explosions caused by several hand grenades had damaged two guesthouses and a hotel. At least two suicide bombers were involved in the attack, the security personnel who was at the scene added, asking not to be named.
A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry confirmed that several blasts had taken place. "The area is under control of the police, and police are searching for the attackers", he informed.
Pools of blood could be seen on the ground, the reporter said. The ground was also covered with broken glass shards from the explosions.
Few people were on the streets on the rainy morning, it being a public holiday.
The Safi Landmark hotel on the top floor of the shopping centre is popular with Westerners. The area under attack is in the central, most fortified part of Kabul.
On January 18, Taliban fighters attacked government facilities in the capital in a standoff that lasted several hours. At least 12 people, among them seven Taliban, were killed in the attack.
Italian "diplomatic counsellor" killed in Kabul attack (Extra)
Feb 26, 2010, 11:24 GMT
Rome - An Italian 'diplomatic counsellor' was among the victims of Friday's terrorist attack in the Afghan capital Kabul, Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said.
The man was deployed with Italy's embassy in Afghanistan and resided at the hotel targeted in the dawn attack, Frattini said in a television interview.
At least 15 people were killed in the attack.
'A car bomb and gunmen were involved. The attack was thwarted, but unfortunately, nothing could be done to prevent the car bomb from exploding,' Frattini said.
Frattini said Italy remained committed to the international military mission in Afghanistan.
Afghan police: 2 police killed in blasts in Kabul
By The Associated Press
Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 8:07 p.m.
KABUL — Afghan police say two policemen have been killed and another wounded in suicide attacks in the heart of Kabul.
Abdul Ghafor Sayedzada, a top investigator for the Kabul police, says a series of explosions occurred Friday morning near the Kabul City Center, a nine-story shopping area that includes the Safi Landmark Hotel. Eyewitnesses said one guest house was destroyed and another was heavily damaged.
Sayed Kabir Amiry, the director of the hospitals in the Afghan capital, says about five other people were wounded in the attack.
Attackers were exchanging gunfire with police about an hour and a half after the first blast.
Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary says police have established a security perimeter around the area.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
KABUL (AP) - A series of explosions rocked an area near a hotel in the heart of the Afghan capital Friday. Witnesses said suicide bombers were to blame and that gunmen opened fire at the site.
Abdul Ghafor Sayedzada, a top investigator for the Kabul police, confirmed the blasts, which woke up residents near the Kabul City Center, a nine-story shopping area that includes the Safi Landmark Hotel.
Najibullah, a 25-year-old hotel worker, said he ran out of the hotel in his underwear when he heard the first explosion. He said he saw two suicide bombers on the site.
"I saw foreigners were crying and shouting," said Najibullah, whose face and hands were covered in blood. "It was a very bad situation inside. God helped me; otherwise I would be dead. I saw one suicide bomber blowing himself up on the first floor of the hotel."
There was no official confirmation about the target of the explosions, but an official from the Interior Ministry said one suicide bomber detonated an explosive near the shopping area. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because an investigation was still under way, said more than one suicide bomber might have been involved.
The blasts occurred on Friday, the first day of the Afghan weekend when fewer people are on the streets.
A building was on fire in front of the four-star hotel, which is close to most government offices. A reporter for The Associated Press said gunmen opened fire at the site. Shattered glass covered the streets. A large plume of black smoke was seen rising from the area. Afghan police, armed with Kalashnikov rifles, moved in taking cover in the doorways of shops.
It was the first attack in the Afghan capital since Jan. 18, when teams of suicide bombers and gunmen targeted government buildings, leaving 12 dead, including seven attackers.
In: Afghanistan, Middle East
Tags: afghanistan, attack, kabol, vbied, car bomb, hotel, central, mujahid, mujahidin
Location: Kabol, Kabol, Afghanistan (load item map)
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