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Taliban attack Kabul

Taliban militants wearing explosives vests launched a brazen assault on the heart of Kabul on Monday, as suicide bombings and gunbattles near the presidential palace and other government buildings paralyzed the capital for hours.

world Updated: Jan 19, 2010 01:02 IST

Taliban militants wearing explosives vests launched a brazen assault on the heart of Kabul on Monday, as suicide bombings and gunbattles near the presidential palace and other government buildings paralyzed the capital for hours.

Afghan police and NATO troops managed to restore security after at least three blasts and machine-gunfire that echoed across the mountain-rimmed city.

Given what might have been, the casualty toll was relatively low: 12 killed including seven attackers.

Still, the attack was the most ambitious in Kabul in nearly a year and demonstrated the vulnerability of the Afghan capital despite extensive security throughout the city.

The assault was also a clear sign the Taliban plan to escalate their fight as the U.S. and its allies ramp up a campaign to end the war.

The violence began shortly before 10 a.m. and ended some five hours later after attacks at four locations within an area of less than one square mile.

The area, in the center of the capital, is a mix of government buildings surrounded by

concrete walls, shops and hotels.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press that 20 armed militants, including some with suicide vests, had entered Kabul to target the presidential palace and other government buildings in the center of the capital.

The Defence Ministry said seven militants were killed but that it was possible others were burned in the shopping center blaze.