Taliban sleeper agent attacks Kabul ministry

An alleged Taliban sleeper agent opened fire inside the defence ministry in Kabul yesterday, killing at least two soldiers before being gunned down, in the third deadly breach of security in Afghanistan in less than a week.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying an agent who was also an army officer planned the attack to coincide with a visit of the French Defence Minister. French officials said the minister, Gerard Longuet, was not inside the ministry during the attack.

Military officials said it was not immediately clear whether the assailant – who was wearing a vest rigged with explosives – was an enlisted soldier or an insurgent who had managed to slip past ministry security. The vest did not explode.

It was the third deadly attack inside an Afghan or international installation in four days, giving weight to warnings that this year's spring fighting season is likely to be particularly bloody.

On Saturday, an Afghan soldier who was also a Taliban sleeper agent turned on his colleagues, killing five Nato service members, four Afghan soldiers and an interpreter.

A day earlier, a suicide bomber dressed as an Afghan policeman blew himself up inside the Kandahar police headquarters, killing the senior police officer in the restive southern province.