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Taliban attackers storm police office in Afghan capital

By Masoud Popalzai, CNN
January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1254 GMT (2054 HKT)
Afghan Crisis Response Unit forces stand in formation during an exercise at their camp on the outskirts of Kabul on Sunday.
Afghan Crisis Response Unit forces stand in formation during an exercise at their camp on the outskirts of Kabul on Sunday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A suicide bomber detonates his explosives at the entrance gate
  • Other heavily armed attackers storm inside the building
  • Afghan security forces launch operation to kill the insurgents
  • Part of the building catches fire amid the violence

Read a version of this story in Arabic.

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Explosions and gun fire rang out across central Kabul on Monday morning after a group of Taliban insurgents stormed the headquarters of the city's traffic police, the second attack on a government office in the Afghan capital in less than a week.

A suicide bomber detonated his explosives at the entrance gate of the traffic police compound. Two or three other attackers then managed to charge inside the main building, armed with machine guns and more explosives, said Mohammad Ayoub Salangi, chief of Kabul Police.

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Afghan security forces surrounded the area and began an operation to kill the assailants, Salangi said.

More blasts went off and gunfire echoed around the neighborhood, where the offices of several other Afghan government agencies are situated.

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Amid the violence, part of the traffic police building caught fire, Salangi said.

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The police chief said that he didn't have firm information on casualties but that around 10 people, including six civilians, were believed to have been wounded.

The Taliban claim responsibility for the attack, said Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the group.

The bold assault Monday followed a similar Taliban attack last week on the country's national security agency in which a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden car.

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Afghan security forces killed five other insurgents involved in that attack and disarmed a second car bomb.

One soldier from the security directorate was killed in the violence and 30 other people were wounded.

Violent attacks take place regularly across the country, where Afghan and NATO troops are battling an insurgency led by the Taliban.

Kabul, where President Hamid Karzai's government is based and many foreign organizations have heavily guarded headquarters, hasn't been spared from the unrest.

Last year, insurgents carried out attacks near several Western embassies, as well as the headquarters of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

The NATO combat mission in Afghanistan officially finishes at the end of 2014 and security duties are being transferred to local forces.

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