Taliban guerrillas stormed a Kabul guesthouse used by the UN International Organization for Migration, killing an Afghan policeman and wounding eight other people, including United Nations personnel, police said.
The attack was the second major strike in the city in the past eight days.
Four Taliban militants armed with heavy and light weapons stormed the guesthouse after a suicide car bomber targeted the entrance gate of the UN agency, Kabul Police Chief Ayub Salangi said in a phone interview. Three of the attackers were shot dead by police and another was continuing to resist apprehension five hours into the incident, he said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed claimed responsibility in an e-mailed statement that said a squad of Taliban guerrillas targeted a guesthouse used by the CIA to train Afghan spies. The claims couldn’t be verified, and the Taliban routinely exaggerate the success of their attacks.
A suicide car bomber on May 16 killed six Americans -– four U.S. civilian contractors and two U.S. troops -- and eight Afghan civilians in an attack that targeted a military convoy as it drove through Kabul. Hizb-e-Islami, a guerrilla group led by a former Afghan prime minister, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and allied with the Taliban, took responsibility.
Four days later, at least 13 people, including the chief of a northern provincial council, died as a suicide bomber on foot detonated his vest as the official entered his office.
Hostilities by the Taliban and other insurgents escalated in the first three months of the year as the spring fighting season began. Attacks increased 47 percent in the first quarter of the year, the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, an organization that provides advice to aid agencies, said in a report.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai was in India this week, and he handed the government in New Delhi a “wish-list” of assistance, according to an interview he gave to the ANI News Agency. India is a major aid donor to Afghanistan, something that has concerned Pakistan which fears a strategic encirclement by its neighbor and rival.
Clashes between Afghan and Pakistani security forces erupted twice in a week earlier this month amid renewed tension over their disputed frontier, a further complication for U.S. efforts to stabilize the region after a near 12-year war with the Taliban.
President Barack Obama has said the bulk of the 66,000 U.S. forces now in Afghanistan will return home by the end of 2014, after which a smaller number of troops may continue to train and advise Afghan forces and carry out counterterrorism operations. While he hasn’t yet said how many U.S. troops will remain after 2014, the U.S. has indicated that about 8,000 to 12,000 allied troops are likely to stay.
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