(Photo: REUTERS/Omar Sobhan)
An armed Afghan police officer runs to take his position after gunmen launched multiple attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul April 15, 2012. Gunmen launched multiple attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday, assaulting Western embassies in the heavily guarded, central diplomatic area and at the parliament in the west, witnesses and officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying their main targets were the German and British embassies and the headquarters of Afghanistan's NATO-led force. Taliban fighers had also launched assaults in two provinces, a spokesman for the insurgents said.
The coordinated attacks launched by the Taliban over the weekend on Afghanistan's capital have ended. Security forces unleashed an attack on the Taliban militants near the diplomatic enclave and the parliament before putting an end to the fighting which lasted 18 hours, a spokesman for Kabul's police chief has said.
"All attackers are dead, the fighting is over," Afghanistan's Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told the AFP.
Foreign embassies, NATO headquarters and the Afghan parliament were hit by a series of attacks initiated by the Taliban insurgents Sunday, the first major assault on an Afghan city in more than six months, and one of the most serious since the US-backed Afghan forces removed the Taliban from power in 2001.
Loud explosions and intense firefight erupted in the early hours of Monday as security forces tried to flush out the militants holed up in the diplomatic enclave, Reuters reported.
Afghan army special forces and the police used rocket-propelled grenades to fight the insurgents equipped with automatic weapons during the street fighting.
"The latest information we have about the Afghan parliament area is that the attack is over now and the only insurgent who was resisting has been killed," the Kabul police chief's spokesman Hashmatullah Stanikzai was quoted as saying by BBC.
The Afghan Defence Ministry spokesperson said 32 insurgents died in the attacks while one was captured by the security personnel. Three Afghan soldiers were killed and 10 others wounded.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, but some officials said the Haqqanis, a network of tribal militants who live along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, were likely involved.
"My guess, based on previous experience here, is this is a set of Haqqani network operations out of north Waziristan and the Pakistani tribal areas," US Ambassador Ryan Crocker told the CNN. "Frankly I don't think the Taliban is good enough."
Taliban said the attack had been planned for months and is the beginning of the "spring offensive." Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters that the attack was an act of vengeance against the recent incidents of the burning of Korans at a NATO base and the massacre of 17 Afghan civilians by a US soldier.
According to analysts, the attacks were reminiscent of a similar attack in Kabul in September 2011, which the US had then alleged was coordinated by the Haqqani network and supported by Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI.
Bill Roggio noted on the Long War Journal that Sunday's "attacks were likely carried out by the Haqqani Network, the powerful Al Qaeda-linked Taliban subgroup commandeered by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin."
He linked the Haqqani network with the Kabul Attack Network, which in turn, has been linked to the ISI Directorate.
However, the Taliban has claimed the entire credit for the attacks, distancing itself from the Haqqani network.
The attacks have raised fears over the security situation in Afghanistan as the NATO prepares for the withdrawal of troops by the end of 2014 leaving the regional security to the Afghan forces. Ryan Crocker, the US Ambassador, said the ability of the Afghan security forces to respond to the attacks was a "clear sign of progress."
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