One policeman killed after Taliban militant attack on Kabul police headquarters

 

At least one policeman was killed today when Taliban militants detonated a car bomb at the gates of the Kabul traffic police headquarters and then stormed the compound, setting off a six-hour gun battle with security forces, authorities said.

It was the second brazen raid in the Afghan capital in less than a week, a sign that the insurgents are determined to keep carrying out such spectacular attacks even as the US and Afghan governments try to entice the Taliban into holding peace talks.

Today's raid began just before dawn when a suicide car bomber blew up his vehicle at the gate of the traffic police department building, close to the Afghan parliament and Kabul zoo, said the city's police chief, Mohammad Ayub Salangi.

Then, two or three attackers "armed with suicide vests and heavy and light weapons entered the compound", said a statement from Mr Salangi's office.

At least 10 people were injured in the fighting - six civilians and four members of the security services, the statement said. At least two of the attackers were killed by police.

At least one police officer died in the fighting, said Mohammad Rafi, an officer responsible for the area where the traffic police headquarters is located. He said he saw five attackers enter the building and at least one of them gunned down.

Gunfire and explosions could still be heard outside the compound shortly after noon local time, but police insisted the situation was under control and that the insurgents were surrounded.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack and said the target of the insurgents was a police training facility "run by foreign military forces".

The traffic police headquarters is not heavily guarded, though it is located in a square leading to the parliament and is also next to the zoo.

It is also adjacent to the Afghan border police headquarters and a police training facility - which may have been the more likely target. The traffic police facility, usually teeming with civilians seeking driving licences and registrations for vehicles, was nearly empty at the time of the attack.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said the assault began with a suicide car bombing. Two insurgents, he said, were then shot dead by Afghan forces while four police commandos were wounded.

Mr Sediqi said Afghan forces were carrying out the operation without any assistance from Nato.

"This shows the ability of the Afghan forces, that they are leading the operation," he said.

A unit of Nato special forces which trains and mentors Afghan police was at the scene but not taking part in the operation.

Gul Rahman, who owns a nearby shop, said he heard at least two explosions when the attack began, just before dawn. An Associated Press reporter at the scene said a number of big explosions were heard from inside and around the building, along with heavy gunfire.

Police officer Abdullah Hamidi said two of the explosions were caused by a man in a suicide vest and another by a car bomb.

It was the second insurgent attack inside Kabul in five days.

Last Wednesday, six Taliban suicide bombers attacked the gates of the Afghan intelligence agency in central Kabul, killing one guard and wounding dozens. Security forces killed all the attackers.

The insurgents carried out the attack by driving a minivan loaded with explosives into a gate of the intelligence agency compound in the capital at noon. The other five attackers wearing suicide vests were in a second minivan that was also loaded with explosives. They were shot dead and security forces later defused the bomb in their minivan.

The attacks came as the Afghan government has been pushing to get the Taliban to the negotiating table and as President Hamid Karzai and the US negotiate for a quicker pullout of American forces.

President Barack Obama said after meeting Mr Karzai in Washington earlier this month that the US-led military coalition would hand over the lead for security around the country to Afghan forces this spring - months ahead of schedule.

Mr Obama also said he agreed with Mr Karzai that the Taliban should open a political office in the Gulf state of Qatar to facilitate peace talks.

Pakistan, the other regional powerbroker, also said last week that it plans to release more Afghan militant detainees in an attempt to boost the peace process ahead of the departure of international troops at the end of 2014.

They made the announcement after meeting Afghan and American officials in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan is thought to hold more than 100 Taliban prisoners and has so far released 26.

In general, Kabul has pressed hard for Pakistan to release its detainees, with some officials saying that they hope the released Taliban can serve as intermediaries. But Washington is concerned about specific prisoners it considers dangerous, saying they could return to the insurgency.

Today's attack also came as the UN said Afghan authorities have done little to stop abuse in their prisons, despite efforts by the international organisation and Nato forces in Afghanistan.

In a report issued yesterday, the UN said Afghan authorities are still torturing prisoners - one year after it first documented the abuse and won government promises of detention reform.

AP

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops
films
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'
TVGrace Dent thinks we should learn to 'hug a Hooray Henry', because poshness is an accident of birth
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
art

Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax

Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt
art

News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Sales Manager

£60k - 80k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game