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June 10 2013 2 10 /06 /June /2013 07:02

Militants launch suicide attack near Kabul airport

Seven Taliban militants are dead after they launched a grenade and gun attack on Kabul airport, taking over two nearby buildings before security forces overwhelmed them.

Suicide attack on Kabul airport
Afghan police arrive at the site of the attack in Kabul Photo: Reuters

"There have not been any casualties to the security forces, and we have not (received) any report of civilian casualties so far."


The attack began at 4.30am when witnesses reported hearing loud explosions near the airport. The heavily-armed militants then seized a building close to the airport and spent several hours engaged in fighting with security forces.

The heavily-guarded airport, which is both a civilian and military facility and contains a large base for the US-led NATO coalition, was closed to all flights.


The NATO coalition said that some international forces were involved in the military response.

"There were personnel from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) with Afghan forces, but Afghan forces led the operation," a coalition spokesman said.


A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack.


President Hamid Karzai was on a visit to Qatar but it was unconfirmed whether he was scheduled to return on Monday.

Kabul last came under attack on May 24, when Taliban militants launched a coordinated suicide and gun attack on a compound of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).


One insurgent detonated himself outside the compound at the start of the fighting, which left several buildings destroyed or damaged by rocket-propelled grenades, gunfire and explosions.


A policeman, two civilians and all four militants died in that attack, with the government lauding the response of the Kabul security forces for preventing further casualties.


The effectiveness of Afghan forces is crucial to the government's ability to defeat the Taliban insurgency as 100,000 NATO-led combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014.


The police, army and special forces are being trained by the international coalition, but there are widespread fears that they will not be able to impose security after 12 years of war.


On Saturday, an Afghan soldier shot dead two US soldiers and one US civilian, the latest "insider attack" to undermine efforts by the two armies to work together to defeat the Taliban insurgency.


The killings in the eastern province of Paktika came on the same day that one Italian soldier died when a grenade was thrown into an armoured vehicle in Farah province, in the far west of the country.


In another recent attack to shake confidence in Afghanistan's prospects after 2014, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) offices in the eastern city of Jalalabad were attacked on May 29.


The two-hour assault, which left one Afghan guard dead, was the first time ICRC offices have been targeted in Afghanistan since the aid organisation began work in the country 26 years ago.

The Taliban, who were ousted from power in Kabul in 2001 for sheltering the Al-Qaeda militants behind the 9/11 attacks, have fought a long and bloody insurgency against Karzai's US-backed government.

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