Τετάρτη, 11 Φεβρουαρίου 2009

Deadly attacks hit Afghan capital


Suicide attackers and gunmen have targeted three government buildings in the Afghan capital, Kabul, leaving at least 19 people dead, officials say.

In one attack, two suicide bombers detonated explosives at an office responsible for prisons in the north of the capital.

Attackers also targeted the justice ministry and education ministry in the centre of the city.

The Taleban have said they carried out the attacks.

A spokesman said they were in response to the treatment of Taleban prisoners in Afghan jails.
More than 50 people are reported injured, officials say.

The attacks come in the week the new US envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, is expected to visit Kabul.

The international forces in Afghanistan condemned the attacks as "callous and indiscriminate".
Taleban warning

Seven attackers took part in Wednesday's co-ordinated assault.

Four gunmen tried to enter the justice ministry. Two were killed outside but the others managed to get in, the BBC's Ian Pannell in Kabul reports.


At one point the justice minister was locked inside his office under armed protection. He told the BBC he was safe but was unable to leave.

The two attackers who entered the building were killed in a gunfight.

A senior source said a number of police officers had also been killed.

There was constant gunfire as police scaled the building with ladders to enter through windows.

Student Assadullah Jagdalak was inside the justice ministry and said he hid under a table when he heard shooting outside the building.

"Security guards started shooting and then the attackers responded by killing other security guards. One got inside the building and started shooting, one guy got upstairs," he said.

A number of people were also killed and injured in the attack on the prisoner affairs department.
In the third incident, the attacker tried and failed to get inside the education ministry and set off an explosive belt after being shot.

Salim Hayran, who works at the ministry, told the BBC: "After I heard the firing I could see from my window people running and the security guards everywhere."

The commander of Nato's International Security Assistance Force, Gen David McKiernan, condemned the attacks.

"Once again the Taleban have displayed that they have no respect for Afghan citizens or any desire to see a peaceful future in Afghanistan," he said.

Our correspondent says there had been a warning that the Taleban were planning a high-profile attack.

He says the attack follows a number of similar assaults last year and comes at a time when President Hamid Karzai is offering to sit down and start peace talks with the Taleban.

The incident comes after US military chief Adm Mike Mullen said more American troops were needed urgently in Afghanistan.

US President Barack Obama is expected to announce soon how many extra US troops could be sent to Afghanistan, and has called for Nato reinforcements.

Mr Holbrooke is expected in Kabul later this week, after his visit to Pakistan.

Before he left for the region, he said Afghanistan would be "much tougher" to solve than Iraq and that he had "never seen anything like the mess we have inherited".

bbc

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