Suicide bombing, gunfire rock Kabul

2013-01-21 07:52
Smoke billows from the Kabul traffic police headquarters during an attack by insurgents, in Kabul. (Musadeq Sadeq, AP)

Smoke billows from the Kabul traffic police headquarters during an attack by insurgents, in Kabul. (Musadeq Sadeq, AP)

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Kabul - A suicide car-bombing followed by several other explosions and gunfire rocked western Kabul around dawn on Monday, police and witnesses said, as Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack.

A large pall of smoke was rising from the vicinity of a police complex on the road to the parliament and the road had been sealed off, residents in the area said.

A local police official said the first large explosion was a suicide car bomb and was followed by several other blasts and gunfire.

"A group of terrorists, two or three or four, tried to enter the traffic police building, Kabul CID chief Mohammad Zahir said.

"Two of the bombers were shot dead at the entrance and one has likely entered the building and is shooting sporadically. Our security forces are in the area."

A witness said the top floor of the building was on fire.

SMS confirmation

He said the initial explosion "very very big - it was massive", and was followed by several other explosions and gunfire.

"There are firefighter trucks, ambulances and police all over the place. The gunfire comes from that direction and the building's top floors are on fire," he said.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in an SMS that the insurgents were behind the attack.

"Today at around 05:00 a large number of fedayeen [suicide bombers] entered a building in Dehmazang and are attacking an American training centre, a police centre and other military centres and have caused heavy casualties on the enemy," he said.

Last Wednesday, a squad of suicide bombers attacked the Afghan intelligence agency headquarters in heavily fortified central Kabul, killing at least one guard and wounding dozens of civilians.

All six attackers were killed in that brazen midday attack on the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

Regular attacks

Taliban insurgents, who have waged an 11-year war against the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai, also claimed responsibility for that attack.

Afghan police and other security forces are increasingly targets of Taliban attacks as they take a bigger role in the battle against the insurgents before Nato withdraws the bulk of its 100 000 combat troops by the end of 2014.

Despite claims by the US-led Nato force that the insurgency has been weakened, Kabul is regularly attacked.

The Taliban also remain active in their traditional strongholds in the south and east of the country, and there are widespread fears of a new multi-factional civil war once international troops leave.

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