Militants killed in siege in upscale Afghan neighbourhood

2015-05-27 05:39
An Afghan security officer (Rahmat Gul, AP)

An Afghan security officer (Rahmat Gul, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kabul - An all-night siege in an upscale neighbourhood of Afghanistan's capital ended in the early hours of Wednesday morning with the deaths of four heavily armed attackers, though no civilians or security personnel were injured or killed, an Afghan official said.

Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Ayub Salangi said that weapons had been seized, including a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, three automatic rifles and a hand grenade.

Using his official Twitter account, Salangi said there were "no civilian or military casualties".

The siege ended after 05:00 in a sustained barrage of automatic weapons fire and a series of huge explosions that resounded across the Wazir Akbar Khan district of downtown Kabul, home to many embassies and foreign firms.

Salangi had said earlier that the target of the attack appeared to be a guesthouse, but he gave no further details.

Annual warm weather offensive

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in tweets on a recognised Twitter account. They referred to the target as "belonging to the occupiers", reiterating the insurgents' message that foreign installations are specific targets in the Afghan capital.

The attack came amid intensified fighting across many parts of Afghanistan since the insurgents launched their annual warm weather offensive a month ago. A Taliban attack on a guesthouse in another part of the capital earlier this month left 14 people dead, including nine foreigners.

The United Nations already has documented a record high number of civilian casualties - 974 killed and 1 963 injured - in the first four months of 2015, a 16% increase over the same period last year.

The siege began late Tuesday, with heavy explosions accompanying sporadic automatic weapon fire, and seemed to be focused on the Rabbani Guesthouse, which is favoured by foreigners as the area is in the heart of the diplomatic district and close to the airport.

Police and a paramilitary Crisis Response Unit surrounded the area, blocked roads, took up positions on rooftops and parked armoured personnel vehicles in the streets around the guesthouse. Police officers smashed lights throughout the neighbourhood to cover their movements.

Dawn volley of gunfire, explosions

For about five hours, gunfire and explosions were sporadic, before a lull lasting more than an hour ended with a dawn volley of sustained gunfire and huge explosions that sent clouds of black smoke into the sky.

The guesthouse, once known as the Heetal Hotel, was damaged in a December 2009 suicide car bomb attack near the home of former Afghan Vice President Ahmad Zia Massoud - brother of legendary anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was killed in an al-Qaeda suicide bombing two days before the September 11, 2001 attacks.

That 2009 attack killed eight people and wounded nearly 40.

The hotel is owned by the Rabbani family, who include the late Burhanuddin Rabbani who served as president of Afghanistan from 1992 until 1996 and was assassinated in Kabul in 2011, and current Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani.

Afghan security forces have been struggling to fend off Taliban attacks since US and Nato forces concluded their combat mission at the end of last year and the mission morphed into one of training and support.

The new insurgent strategy appears to be aimed at forcing the government to spread its forces thinly across many regions of the country, to focus on security rather than developing the economy and creating jobs as it has promised to do.

Earlier on Tuesday, in Uruzgan province, officials said that a district has been under attack by militants for the past two weeks, with district chief Abdul Karim Karimi saying that since the fighting began, 12 soldiers had been killed and dozens wounded.

On Monday, militants killed at least 26 police officers and soldiers in ambushes in southern Helmand province.

Read more on:    taliban  |  afghanistan  |  security

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.