Taliban storm Govt buildings in heart of Kabul,kill 26

Taliban militants launched suicide bomb and gun attacks on Wednesday on three Afghan Government buildings...

Written by Agence France Presse | Kabul | Published: February 12, 2009 1:29:11 am

Taliban militants launched suicide bomb and gun attacks on Wednesday on three Afghan Government buildings,killing at least 26 people,in the worst and the most daring assault on the capital since 2001.

The Defence Ministry said eight suicide attackers also died in the near-simultaneous strikes on the prisons directorate,and justice and education ministries.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid,told AFP in a telephone call that 16 suicide attackers had entered Kabul and would carry out a wave of strikes,as the violence sowed panic across the city.

“So far we have registered 26 people killed and 55 wounded,” Health Ministry spokesman Abdullah Fahim said. Most were civilians,he said.

Meanwhile,the French Defence Ministry said an army officer was killed by a home-made mine in Afghanistan. Of the eight attackers killed,three managed to blow themselves up and five were shot dead,officials said.

Witnesses of the attack on the Justice Ministry building,which is close to the presidential palace,said several gunmen burst into the building and opened fire on security guards. Some of the gunmen managed to run up several floors of the building,shooting as they went,they said.

Terrified ministry employees jumped from the windows of the four-storey building,while others locked themselves in their offices as heavy exchanges of gunfire continued for several hours,witnesses said.

Five would-be suicide attackers were killed inside the building,the Defence Ministry said. A witness said at least one was strapped with explosives.

As the dramatic assault unfolded,two suicide attackers also struck the prisons directorate in the north of the city,witnesses and officials said. “I first heard gun shots,” said a resident of a nearby house.

“I saw a man around 18 or 20 years old hiding behind a vehicle and the police were firing at him. He had a pistol and was firing back. At one point he pulled a wire from his sleeve and then a blast took place with huge fire and thick smoke. After some minutes a second blast took place at the entrance to the building.”

Another suicide attacker was shot dead in front of the Education Ministry,an Interior Ministry official informed.

“His explosives detonated but it has not caused casualties,” the official said.

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