International

Kabul gun battle ends with 4 militants killed; Taliban claim responsibility

21649_216807Kabul: An hour’s-long gun battle with insurgents in central Kabul ended early Wednesday with the four attackers killed, a government minister said, reporting no civilian or military casualties.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the overnight attacks in the diplomatic district of Wazir Akbar Khan, as the insurgents press their annual spring offensive.

‘Four attackers who had one RPG launcher, three AK-47s and one grenade launcher were killed in Wazir Akbar Khan,’ deputy interior minister Mohammad Ayoub Salangi said on Twitter.

‘There were no civilian or military casualties,’ he added.

The attack apparently targeted a guesthouse owned by the family of Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani. It triggered sporadic bursts of gunfire and explosions.

The standoff began around 11:00 pm on Tuesday (1830 GMT) and ended at dawn Wednesday.

The hotel is owned by the Rabbani family, who include the late Burhanuddin Rabbani, who served as president of Afghanistan from 1992 until 1996, and current Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani.

Taliban militants had attacked a guesthouse days earlier this month in Kabul, killing an American, a British citizen, an Italian, four Indian nationals, five Afghans and two Pakistanis. The United Nations already has documented a record high number of civilian casualties – 974 killed and 1,963 injured – in the first four months of 2015, a 16% increase over the same period last year.

On Monday, militants killed at least 26 police officers and soldiers in ambushes in southern Helmand province. As police retreated, militants surrounded the police headquarters of Naw Zad district and fired down on them from surrounding hills, district police chief Napas Khan said.

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