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Several dead in Taliban siege in Kabul

Two Spaniards and at least four Afghan policemen have been killed in a terrorist attack in Kabul's diplomatic quarter, near the Spanish embassy. According to the Afghan government, police forces ended the siege.

Afghan security forces suppressed a suicide attack on a guesthouse near the Spanish embassy in Kabul's diplomatic quarter. According to Afghan officials, all the four gunmen involved in the deadly siege were killed.

Multiple blasts struck Kabul's affluent Shir Pur district on Friday evening. The explosions were followed by gunbattles between suspected Taliban militants and security forces.

Two Spanish security officers and four Afghan policemen lost their lives in the siege, according to Kabul's Criminal Investigation Department.

At least nine Afghan civilians were wounded and another 47 Afghans and foreigners were resuced from nearby buildings where they were trapped. The rescue operation ended early on Saturday morning, after almost 12 hours.

The Spanish embassy was earlier reported to be the target of the attack, but Spain's Prime Minister Mariana Rajoy clarified that the assault was nearby and not on the compound.

Taliban claim responsibility

In a statement issued on Saturday, the Taliban taunted authorities with the "disgrace" of not being able to prevent an attack in the heart of Kabul.

"The presence of our Mujahideen with weapons and a car loaded with explosives in such a high security area shows God's support and the cooperation of the poor and Muslim people," spokesman Zabihulla Mujahid said in a statement.

The siege came just hours after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani voiced optimism that peace talks with the Taliban would resume within weeks.

It was the latest in a series of raids by the Taliban. On Tuesday, at least 50 people were killed in a 27-hour Taliban siege on the airport of Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city.

Preaching a separate brand of Islamism, the "Islamic State" (IS) group has also gained traction in Afghanistan, with some defecting members of the Taliban joining its ranks.

das/rc (EFE, Reuters, AFP)

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