Kabul: Spaniards among six killed as long Taliban siege ends

  • Agencies, Kabul
  • Updated: Dec 13, 2015 00:08 IST
Members of the Afghan Crisis Response Unit (CRU) arrive at the site of a Taliban attack in the Afghan capital of Kabul. The siege ended on Saturday after the CRU killed all of the attackers. (REUTERS Photo)

At least four Afghan policemen and two Spaniards were killed in an hours-long Taliban siege near the Spanish embassy in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter, the latest high-profile insurgent attack that ended early on Saturday.

Multiple blasts and gunfire rocked the high-security zone after the brazen raid began on Friday evening, just hours after President Ashraf Ghani voiced optimism that a peace process with the Taliban would resume within weeks. “Four Afghan policemen, two foreign nationals and four attackers were killed in the terrorist attack in Kabul,” Fraidoon Obaidi, the head of Kabul’s Criminal Investigation Department, said.

The government in Madrid confirmed that the two foreigners were Spanish policemen killed during the assault, which began when a huge car bomb struck during rush hour on Friday evening. The powerful blast, which sent a thick plume of smoke into the sky, was followed by multiple explosions through the night along with sporadic bursts of gunfire. Security men near the embassy ducked from gunshots as they hauled away a limp body and two wounded men through the dark to a waiting ambulance — one bleeding from the head, the other a policeman with a gunshot wound to his leg — an AFP photographer saw.

The attack occurred just days after Taliban militants stormed an airport complex in the city of Kandahar, during which at least 50 civilian and military personnel were killed. (REUTERS Photo)

Splintered Taliban escalating insurgency

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, just days after President Ashraf Ghani returned from a regional peace conference in Pakistan, where he sought support to revive peace talks that had stalled this year.

It followed a separate Taliban attack on the airport complex in the southern city of Kandahar, in which at least 50 civilians and security forces personnel were killed.

On Thursday, the head of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency resigned over a row with Ghani, in a move that underlined the divisions among leaders of the country’s security apparatus.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a news conference in Kabul. President Ghani has just returned from a regional peace conference in Pakistan, where he tried to restart peace talks with the fearsome insurgent group that had stalled earlier this year. (AP Photo)

The Taliban has been caught up with a bloody internal power struggle but it has nevertheless been able to mount well-coordinated attacks on targets across the country.

Militants have stepped up the insurgency following the withdrawal of international forces from combat operations last year, achieving a series of successes, including seizing the northern city of Kunduz in September.

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