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47 killed as Afghan forces end Kabul siege

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Sparks from a fire caused by an explosion are seen at a construction site during a battle between Afghan forces and Taliban insurgents in Kabul early on Monday.Photo: Reuters
Sparks from a fire caused by an explosion are seen at a construction site during a battle between Afghan forces and Taliban insurgents in Kabul early on Monday.Photo: Reuters

Afghan forces on Monday regained control over parts of the capital Kabul after killing all the 36 Taliban militants — some wearing burqas — who unleashed the biggest wave of coordinated suicide attacks in a decade.

The brazen 18-hour attack on the city was brought to an end this morning after militants holed up in two buildings near Parliament were killed by heavy gunfire by Afghan security forces and air assaults from NATO helicopters.

“A total of 47 people were killed in the attacks which also left 65 wounded,” Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi told reporters here.

He said the figure included 36 Taliban militants, eight Afghan security guards and three civilians.

“Some of the Taliban suicide bombers came wearing burqas and carrying flowers to their intended targets which included a number of embassies and the Parliament building, before casting it off to unleash their lethal weaponry,” he said.

For the first time, Afghan security forces took the lead in beating back the Taliban assault, a NATO spokesman said, adding that their helicopters had provided air support to obliterate some of the militant held areas.

The response of the Afghan security forces was hailed by top US commander Gen John Allen and the US ambassador to the country Ryan Crocker.

The attacks raised fears over the precarious security situation in the country as NATO prepares to withdraw the bulk of 130,000 troops from the war-torn country by the end of 2014 and hand over responsibility to the Afghan army.

The Afghan forces flushed out insurgents from the central diplomatic area and killed the last gunman who was fighting near Parliament in the west of the city, a senior police official said.

Earlier on Monday, residents of Kabul woke up to a second day of explosions and the crackle of gunfire as Afghan forces hit the two spots were militants were holed up overnight.

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