A coordinated Taliban attack in the heart of Kabul, Afghanistan killed at least five people and cast new doubts on the security apparatus in the capital city.
Multiple explosions from suicide bombs and possibly grenades were accompanied by three hours of chaos and gun battles outside government buildings. The Taliban fighters were apparently trying to seize a government building, but instead ended up holding out in a shopping center. Afghan security forces said that nine attackers were eventually killed, including four initial suicide bombers.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the city was back under control, although there have been reports of continued fighting throughout the capital.
A spokesman for the Taliban said that 20 fighters were involved in the operation, which targeted the presidential palace and other ministry buildings at the center of the fortified city.
The attack was the largest and most aggressive assault on the capital since October 28, 2009, when gunmen took over a United Nations residence, killing 11.
Explosions and gunfire began just as a high-level adviser to President Karzai sat down for a press interview on the subject of reintegrating low-level Taliban fighters into mainstream Afghan society.
“Oh my god, again it’s a suicide,” Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, security adviser to the president, said after being startled by the first explosion, Reuters India reported.
“This is how you work in a country in war, this can happen in any country, even a stable one,” Stanekzai added.
Stanekzai was later informed that his nephew was wounded in Monday’s fighting.