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Gunmen storm guesthouse in upmarket Kabul district

Gunmen have stormed a popular guesthouse in Kabul, with several people reported to have been trapped inside. Gunshots were heard from inside the building, which was sealed off by security personnel.

Police and special forces were deployed to the Kolola Pushta area of Kabul on Wednesday evening, after the guesthouse was attacked.

Police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said gunshots were heard from inside. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, although such guesthouses have in the past been targeted by the Taliban.

A music event had been planned at the hotel for the evening. "There was a concert planned to take place inside the Park Place tonight, with foreigners, mainly Indian and Turkish guests, invited," an official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"The attack started before the concert. We believe three to five gunmen have managed to sneak into the guesthouse, but they first faced resistance from the guards."

First year alone for Afghan forces

The Taliban launched its spring offensive across Afghanistan late last month and has stepped up attacks on government and foreign targets. The guesthouse is close to a UN mission office and other international agencies.

Earlier on Wednesday, gunmen attacked a government compound in the city of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, where they killed 12 and wounded 12 more.

This year's offensive is the first in which Afghan forces are battling the insurgents without the full support of US-led foreign combat troops.

The NATO combat mission formally ended in December, with only a small follow-up force dedicated to training and supporting local security personnel.

rc/kms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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