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Taliban mounts deadly Kabul attacks

AlJazeera.net

Feb 11, 2009


Suicide bombers and armed men have attacked the buildings of the Afghan justice ministry and the department of prison affairs in Kabul, officials say.

At least 19 people have reportedly died in Wednesday's attacks near the presidential palace and the US embassy in the Afghan capital.

Two suicide bombers were shot inside the ministry during a gun battle, with a third suicide bomber shot later, an official said.

At least four Afghan security personnel were killed in the fighting, with 13 more injured.

Witnesses said that the attackers had opened fire indiscriminately in front of the justice ministry headquarters.

Taliban claim

Dhabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, told Al Jazeera by telephone that the group was behind the attack.

Officials said five men stormed the justice ministry equipped with AK-47s, grenades and wearing suicide vests.

At least two suicide bombers separately attacked the department of prison affairs in the same complex.

A suicide blast also took place in the north of Kabul, killing another 10 people.

Security forces said they have prevented another possible attack by shooting a suicide attacker next to the ministry of foreign affairs and the ministry of education.

Qais Azimy, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Kabul, said: "It is a success for them [the Taliban] ... It shows that they are still powerful."

No surprise

Azimy said that the attacks so close to the presidential palace showed that the Taliban can still hit any location.

"Over a year ago that kind of attack could be a surprise, but not anymore."

Al Jazeera's Hamish Macdonald, also in Kabul, said that the justice ministry and prisons department appeared to have been deliberately targeted by the Taliban, in response to the alleged mistreatment of Taliban prisoners.

The attacks occurred ahead of a visit to the country by Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Holbrooke is currently in Pakistan for talks until Thursday.

The Taliban, which once ruled Afghanistan, was driven out of Kabul following a US-led invasion in late 2001.

However, Taliban fighters have since regrouped, launching attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan from bases in the lawless border region between the two countries.






:: Article nr. 51694 sent on 11-feb-2008 15:20 ECT

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Link: english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/02/20092116517109416.html



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