Attacks in Afghanistan end after 18 hours of intense battle

Apr 16 2012 - 9:28am

Images

Gunfire and smoke is seen coming out of a building occupied by militants during a battle with Afghan-led forces, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, April 16, 2012. The Afghan capital awoke Monday to a second day of explosions and heavy gunfire as Afghan-led forces worked to defeat insurgents holed up in the building in the heart of the city and another near parliament. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
Afghan security forces rush to the site of a battle in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, April 15, 2012. Taliban militants launched a series of coordinated attacks across Kabul on Sunday, targeting at least three neighborhoods in the capital that are home to Afghan government buildings, Western embassies and NATO bases. (AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)
NATO soldiers run during a gun battle in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, April 15, 2012. The Taliban launched a series of coordinated attacks on as many as seven sites across the Afghan capital on Sunday, targeting NATO bases, the parliament and Western embassies. Militants also launched near-simultaneous assaults in three other eastern cities. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
The body of an alleged militant is seen on the ground after a gun battle in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, April 16, 2012. A brazen, 18-hour Taliban attack on the Afghan capital ended early Monday when insurgents who had holed up overnight in two buildings were overcome by heavy gunfire from Afghan-led forces and pre-dawn air assaults from U.S.-led coalition helicopters. (AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)
Afghan special forces carry a wounded colleague after a gun battle near the Afghan parliament in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, April 16, 2012. A brazen, 18-hour Taliban attack on the Afghan capital ended early Monday when insurgents who had holed up overnight in two buildings were overcome by heavy gunfire from Afghan-led forces and pre-dawn air assaults from U.S.-led coalition helicopters. (AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)
Gunfire and smoke is seen coming out of a building occupied by militants during a battle with Afghan-led forces, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, April 16, 2012. The Afghan capital awoke Monday to a second day of explosions and heavy gunfire as Afghan-led forces worked to defeat insurgents holed up in the building in the heart of the city and another near parliament. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
Afghan security forces rush to the site of a battle in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, April 15, 2012. Taliban militants launched a series of coordinated attacks across Kabul on Sunday, targeting at least three neighborhoods in the capital that are home to Afghan government buildings, Western embassies and NATO bases. (AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)
NATO soldiers run during a gun battle in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, April 15, 2012. The Taliban launched a series of coordinated attacks on as many as seven sites across the Afghan capital on Sunday, targeting NATO bases, the parliament and Western embassies. Militants also launched near-simultaneous assaults in three other eastern cities. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
The body of an alleged militant is seen on the ground after a gun battle in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, April 16, 2012. A brazen, 18-hour Taliban attack on the Afghan capital ended early Monday when insurgents who had holed up overnight in two buildings were overcome by heavy gunfire from Afghan-led forces and pre-dawn air assaults from U.S.-led coalition helicopters. (AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)
Afghan special forces carry a wounded colleague after a gun battle near the Afghan parliament in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, April 16, 2012. A brazen, 18-hour Taliban attack on the Afghan capital ended early Monday when insurgents who had holed up overnight in two buildings were overcome by heavy gunfire from Afghan-led forces and pre-dawn air assaults from U.S.-led coalition helicopters. (AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Fighting ended Monday morning some 18 hours after the Taliban launched a coordinated attack on Western embassies, NATO headquarters and Afghan government facilities in the capital Kabul and three eastern provinces.

The attacks, marked by extensive gunfire, explosions and rocket attacks and among the most serious to hit the capital since the Taliban was driven from power in 2001, saw eight Afghan security personnel and three civilians killed, Interior Minister Besmillah Mohammadi said Monday.

Afghan officials also added that at least 36 insurgents were killed and more than a dozen wounded or captured.

Soon after daybreak Monday, security forces managed to flush out insurgents holed up near embassies in Kabul's heavily guarded Akbar Khan diplomatic neighborhood. The Taliban has taken credit for the protracted assault and says it is part of a "spring offensive."

Fighting continued for a few more hours around the parliament, among the last areas to be fully controlled. Video footage showed soldiers scaling scaffolding, outflanking militants who appeared to have ensconced themselves near the top of a construction site in Kabul.

The attacks hit a month before a NATO summit at which the United States and its allies are supposed to further refine plans for the 2014 withdrawal of many of the 130,000 foreign troops now stationed in the country and the transfer of security to Afghan forces.

Three of the attacks in Kabul were mounted from high-rise construction sites, affording fighters a superior vantage point and cover behind green protective netting. This suggests that Afghan security forces didn't take sufficient notice of a similar operation in Kabul last September that saw unoccupied buildings used for rocket attacks on the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters.

The tactic underscored the insurgents' flexibility, some experts said.

"The Taliban is constantly developing new methods of attack," said Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. "If they succeed, they may continue to use them, otherwise they move on."

------

(c)2012 the Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

 

From Around the Web

  +