2 Mar 2017

Taliban attacks kill 16 in Kabul

8:51 am on 2 March 2017

Almost simultaneous attacks in Kabul have left at least 16 people dead and 44 injured, the health ministry says.

People walk past the site of a suicide car bombing; one of two Taliban attacks in Kabul on the same day.

People walk past the site of a suicide car bombing; one of two Taliban attacks in Kabul on the same day. Photo: AFP

A powerful explosion was heard across the city as a car bomb was detonated near a police headquarters in the west of the city, the interior ministry said. The blast was followed immediately by gunfire between security forces and an unknown number of attackers.

Fighting at police headquarters, not far from a military training school, lasted for several hours with gunmen barricaded inside the building.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Officials originally said just three people had died in the attack, but revised the number up later in the day. The 16 dead included at least 11 civilians.

Women and children were among the dozens injured.

It is the latest in a string of attacks to challenge the Afghan authorities after the resurgent militant group started its spring offensive early.

It came a day after the Taliban killed 12 policemen in an "insider attack" in the southern Afghan province of Helmand.

Last month, a suicide bomber killed at least 20 people outside the Supreme Court in Kabul. The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for that attack.

The Taliban are seeking to expel foreign troops, defeat the US-backed government and reimpose Islamic law after being ousted in 2001.

The latest attacks underlined warnings from Afghan officials that they faced a difficult year.

In the northern province of Baghlan, the Taliban seized control of a district centre after days of heavy fighting. Faiz Mohammad Amiri, governor of Tala wa Barfak district, said the Taliban had taken control. Four members of the security forces had been killed and another four wounded.

Government forces have struggled to control the insurgency since a NATO-led force ended its combat mission in 2014.

According to US estimates, Afghan government forces now control less than 60 percent of the country although they hold all main provincial centres.

-BBC/Reuters

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