Taliban launches attack in Kabul

Taliban fighters have launched a coordinated attack on a UN compound
in the centre of the Afghan capital Kabul, setting off explosions and
battling security forces.
There were conflicting reports about the number of casualties, but at
least eight foreign workers, including four UN staffers and four
Nepalese guards had been injured in the attack on Friday, Al Jazeera's
Qais Azimy, reporting from Kabul, said.
A plume of smoke hung over the city centre after the attack was
launched, just eight days after six Americans, soldiers and civilians,
and nine Afghans were killed in a suicide car bombing in Kabul.
The Taliban, fighting to expel Western forces and establish Islamic
rule, claimed responsibility, saying a compound used by the US Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA), had been targeted, Al Jazeera's Azimy said.
"It's a city in panic again," Azimy said. In his latest report, he
said he could no longer hear gunfire. But he also said that authorities
still believe the gunmen are still alive and holed up in one of the
government buildings.
At least six attackers were reportedly armed with "heavy machine guns".


He also quoted the Taliban as saying that "they are proud" to have carried the attack in the area, which is under high security.


"It's a show to the people in Afghanistan that they are strong," our correspondent said.


Concern is mounting about how the 352,000 members of the Afghan
security forces will cope with the militants after most foreign NATO-led
combat troops leave by the end of next year.
Kabul police chief Ayoub Salangi said four attackers had entered a UN compound.


"Our security forces have already killed two of them and two are
still on the second floor and fighting with Afghan security forces,"
Salangi said.
Four blasts


There was no information about anyone who had been inside the compound at the time of the attack.


There were at least four large blasts and exchanges of fire reported
between the attackers and Afghan forces, supported by Norwegian special
forces, at 6:20 pm (1350 GMT), witnesses said.
The first blast was a suicide car-bomb blast at about 4 pm (1130 GMT)
near a main intersection, said Kabul police chief spokesman
Hashmatullah Stanikzai.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, speaking to Reuters by telephone, claimed responsibility.


He said the fighters were targeting a compound used "mostly by
members of the CIA", adding that they had gained access to the compound
after the first bomb.
The Taliban routinely overstate the results of their attacks.


Shooting erupted after the first bomb, with more blasts beginning about 30 minutes later.


Insurgent attacks against civilians, government workers and Afghan
security forces have increased in recent weeks as the Taliban, toppled
by a US-led force in 2001, exert increasing pressure on the Afghan
government.
Fifteen people, including six Americans, were killed on May 16 in a
suicide bombing by the Hezb-i Islami rebel group, which is allied with
the Taliban.
Last year, more than a dozen people were killed during a Taliban
attack in Kabul which started with coordinated suicide attacks and led
to an 18-hour long siege.http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia/2013/05/2013524131858803795.html

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