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Afghan Security Forces Repel Taliban Guesthouse Attack

An attack on an area of Kabul that is home to many foreign embassies and senior Afghan officials follows a recent surge in violence that has left dozens dead across the country.
Photo via EPA

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Afghan security forces reportedly killed four Taliban gunmen early on Wednesday who had attempted to storm a guesthouse in a diplomatic area of Kabul.

The attack, which took place in the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Afghanistan's capital, began late Tuesday, when assailants armed with assault rifles, RPGs, and grenades attempted to breach the guesthouse compound and engaged in an hours-long firefight with police.


Kabul police chief General Rahman Rahimi reported that there had been no other civilian or military casualties.

The Taliban said it carried out the attack and claimed to have killed a number of "invaders." However, the group often makes inflated casualty claims.

Afghan police said that the gunmen had targeted the former Heetal Guesthouse, which was damaged in a 2009 Taliban suicide bombing that killed eight.

Now known as Rabbani Guesthouse, it has since been more heavily secured, a factor which may have contributed to the insurgents' inability to breach the compound.

The facility is owned by Jalal Rabbani, the son of former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was ousted by the Taliban in 1996 and assassinated in 2011 by a suicide bomber with explosives hidden in his turban. The prominent Rabbani family also includes current Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani.

The American and Canadian embassies are also located in Wazir Akbar Khan, along with many diplomatic missions and the homes of officials from the United Nations and Afghan government.

The violence follows a recent spate of insurgent attacks that have left dozens dead across the country, as the Taliban begin their spring offensive. An attack on a Kabul guesthouse on May 14 killed 14 people, including nine foreigners.

In a series of strikes in Helmand province's Nawzad district on Tuesday, Taliban fighters reportedly killed 19 police officers and seven soldiers before laying siege to a police compound.


Speaking with the Associated Press from the besieged complex, district police chief Napas Khan said the insurgents overran a number of police checkpoints, looted police vehicles and weapons, then blocked routes into the town and pushed to within 70 feet of the compound's perimeter.

"We need an immediate response from the government," Khan reportedly said over the sound of gunfire, adding that the gunmen were mostly firing down on their position from surrounding hillsides.

Gunmen also stormed a training center for teachers in Kandahar on Monday, leading to an extended firefight where a civilian was killed in the crossfire, police spokesman Zia Durrani told the Los Angeles Times. A roadside bomb in Kandahar also killed at least nine people on Monday.

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The Taliban claimed responsibility for the training center attack, as well as for a suicide bombing in Qalat, the capital of Zabul province, which injured 70.

Meanwhile, gunmen — including at least one who was wearing a suicide vest — attacked a courthouse in Maidan Wardak province on Tuesday, killing two police officers.

"Three attackers tried to enter the appellate court in Maidan Shahr," provincial police chief Khalil Andarabi said, according to AFP. "One blew himself up at the first checkpoint, killing two police. The others tried to enter the building but were killed by security forces."

Another attack in the southeastern Paktika province killed at least eight police officers and injured 10 others.

Violence has been on the rise in Afghanistan since most American and allied foreign forces pulled out at the beginning of this year. The Taliban has a strong presence in Helmand, and last month announced the start of their annual spring offensive, despite a government operation in March intended to dent the group's capabilities.

Local troops are now responsible for Afghan security, but they have been taking heavy casualties while struggling to combat the insurgents. The civilian death toll has also been high, with a record 10,000 non-combatants killed or wounded in 2014, according to the United Nations.

Follow John Beck on Twitter: @JM_Beck