Deadly blasts strike central Kabul in Afghanistan

A series of explosions and gunbattles that killed at least 17 people in an area of residential hotels rented by foreigners.

Deadly blasts strike central Kabul in Afghanistan

Suicide bombers targeted the heart of Kabul on Friday, triggering a series of explosions and gunbattles that killed at least 17 people in an area of residential hotels rented by foreigners.

Police said a suicide bomber blew himself up near the entrance to Kabul's biggest shopping centre soon after daybreak. At least two blasts and gunfire were reported in the area, which includes a hotel, guest house and some government buildings.

A Reuters cameraman said he saw two bodies being carried from the guest house, which is used largely by Indians.

In Kabul, an Indian who identified himself as Kashif said he survived Friday's attack in the guest house by locking himself inside his room.

"I was inside my room when I heard a loud explosion and then I could not see if people were killed or wounded because I locked my door," Kashif said.

The new attack -- the biggest in Kabul since Jan. 18 -- shattered the early morning calm at the start of the Afghan weekend. Thick smoke rose above the neighbourhood.

"I heard a big blast," witness Quaree Sameh told Reuters.

"The glass shattered. The attackers were throwing grenades and shooting," Sameh said.

Broken glass littered the street on a wet, cold morning as Afghan security forces wearing bullet-proof vests rushed to secure the area, some taking up positions in doorways and others crouching behind concrete barriers.

"Responsibility"


Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attacks.

"Our mujahidi (holy warrior) fighters managed to attack in the heart of Kabul city once again," Mujahid told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

He said at least five Taliban fighters launched the attack. Two suicide bombers detonated explosives-packed vests near the hotel and the City Centre shopping mall. Three fighters were in the basement of the shopping centre, he said.

Witnesses later said the fighting died down and the situation appeared to be under control.

The attacks in Kabul came as thousands of U.S., Afghan and NATO soldiers were in their second week of a major offensive against a Taliban stronghold in the town of Marjah in southern Afghanistan.


Agencies

Last Mod: 26 Şubat 2010, 13:14
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