Afghan capital Kabul hit by Taliban attack

Afghan capital Kabul hit by Taliban attack
# 18 January 2010 20:56 (UTC +04:00)
Baku. Ayaz Abdulla – APA. Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers have attacked buildings in the heart of the Afghan capital, Kabul, setting off explosions and sparking gun battles, APA reports quoting BBC.
Fighting erupted near the Serena Hotel and the presidential palace, although Afghan President Hamid Karzai says security has now been restored.
The Taliban said 20 of its fighters had taken part in the attack on Kabul.
Two civilians and three security personnel have been killed plus 71 others wounded, officials say.
Seven attackers had also been killed, Interior Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar said.
The city is now calm but there is concern that some of the attackers may still be at large.
It is the latest in a series of increasingly brazen attacks on Kabul.
A statement on a Taliban website said the raid had targeted government buildings and the hotel.
The attacks began at about 0950 (0520 GMT) when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in front of the Central Bank, next to the presidential palace, Afghan security officials said.
Minutes later, two or three suicide bombers plus armed militants took over a multi-storey shopping centre overlooking the presidential palace, and attacked other government buildings and the five-star Serena Hotel.
While security forces lay siege to the shopping centre, a suicide bomber driving a van painted as an ambulance stopped outside another shopping centre nearby and detonated his explosives, officials said.