Taliban Raid on Kabul

The Taliban in Afghanistan launched explosions today, firing rockets and gunfire throughout Kabul which targeted Western embassies in the city; the NATO force headquarters, and parliament building.

Attacks also took place In the eastern city of Jalalabad, as the Taliban militants attacked a foreign force base near a school, there were also reports of a blast near the airport.

The attack is one of the most serious within the capital since the U.S.-backed Afghan forces removed the Taliban from power in 2001 and highlights how the Taliban are still able to strike heavily guarded diplomatic areas after more than 10 years of war.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who has staged a long campaign against the Taliban, had hoped to see the departure of most foreign combat troops by the end of 2014. This new fighting will be a setback to these hopes.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid speaking to the Reuters news agency said “These attacks are the beginning of the spring offensive and we had planned them for months,” adding that the this was revenge for the actions of American troops in Afghanistan – including the burning of Korans at a NATO base and the massacre of 17 civilians by a U.S. soldier. It is feared there will probably be more such attacks.

Fighting was still raging after nightfall, more than five hours after the Taliban first struck. Buildings targeted included the German and British embassies and the headquarters of the NATO-led force. . Black smoke was seen rising from the embassies while rocket-propelled grenades whizzed overhead. Heavy gunfire could be heard from many directions as Afghan security forces tried to repel Taliban fighters.

There has been some opposition to the Taliban’s recent attacks including from several Afghan members of parliament who joined the Afghan security forces in repelling attackers from a roof near the parliament.

Some of the Taliban fighters were seen dressed in women’s full-length burqas in an attempt to conceal their identities.

The Ministry of Interior said 19 insurgents, including suicide bombers, died in the encounters across the country and two were captured. Fourteen police officers and nine civilians were wounded.

Todays attacks come a month before a NATO summit on the transition to Afghan security control.

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