Suicide bombers that struck in Kabul have been killed by Afghan security forces in a bloody crackdown. Observers say the siege shows that militants remain a potent force capable of hitting at the heart of the capital.
A total of 36 Taliban militants were killed after launching a siege on the Afghan capital, Kabul, that began Sunday and continued into Monday morning, the country‘s interior minister, Bismillah Mohammadi, said on Monday.
Eight members of the Afghan security forces and three civilians were also killed, Mohammadi added.
Around 40 Afghan security force members and 25 civilians were injured, the minister said. One militant was captured in Jalalabad.
The Kabul police department issued a separate announcement that an attempted suicide bomber was captured on Monday in Kabul's Pul-i-Charkhi neighborhood, which is home to numerous NATO military facilities.
A coordinated attack
The Taliban's assault in Afghanistan began Sunday when a number of near-simultaneous attacks were launched on at least seven sites in Kabul and other targets around in the country.
In Kabul, the militants mainly attacked an area close to the embassies of Germany, the United States, Britain and Iran, as well as offices of the United Nations and other international organizations.
The French, Turkish and Chinese embassies are not far from the site.
Bombs and gunfire were heard in the diplomatic enclave. Militants also took over buildings and tried to enter parliament.
Parliamentary deputy Mohammad Naeem Lalai told the AFP news agency that lawmakers joined security forces in firing on militants as they tried to storm the parliament, which was in session.
Heavy fighting broke out again Sunday night, more than five hours after the initial attacks, and sporadic gunfire continued into Monday morning.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they were the beginning of what he called "our spring offensive."
In an e-mailed statement, Mujahid said, "In all these attacks, tens of Mujahedeen fighters equipped with light and heavy weapons, suicide vests, rocket propelled grenades, rockets, heavy machine guns and hand grenades are attacking their targets."
A spokesman for the US embassy, Gavin Sundwall, said all staff there were accounted for and safe.
In September last year, Taliban militants killed at least 14 people during a 19-hour siege of targets including the US embassy and headquarters of foreign troops in Kabul. In August, nine people were killed when suicide bombers attacked the British Council cultural center.
However, the Sunday attacks represent the largest offensive on Kabul since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.
sej/pfd (AFP, AP, Reuters)