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Afghan officials: Taliban insurgents dead in Kabul airport attack

Published: Updated:

The seven suspected Taliban militants who launched an attack Monday on Kabul airport died in the assault after detonating themselves, a police chief has confirmed.

“There were seven assailants -- two (suicide bombers) died detonating themselves and five others were killed in fighting,” Mohammad Ayoub Salangi, chief of Kabul police, told reporters, according to AFP news agency.

“There have not been any casualties to the security forces, and we have not (received) any report of civilian casualties so far.”

Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Sediqi says two civilians were wounded in Monday's attack that was apparently targeting NATO's airport headquarters.

The security forces' response was widely praised as a sign of their growing professionalism as they take over responsibility from 100,000 U.S.-led combat troops who will pull out by the end of next year.

President Hamid Karzai, who is currently visiting Qatar, highlighted the effectiveness of the foreign-trained units after only two civilians suffered minor injuries in the attack.

"Brave Afghan security forces have the ability to repel any enemy attack and can protect people and their country," Karzai said in a statement.

The attack on Kabul airport was claimed by the Taliban, after insurgents launched grenade and gun attacks and took over two nearby buildings.

Security forces attempted to storm the buildings and three of the insurgents were killed, while other attackers fought on in what has been described as an “ongoing attack,” AFP news agency reported.

Those who were killed were reportedly armed with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and machine guns.

Loud explosions and bursts of small-arms fire erupted for at least three hours after the US embassy sounded its “duck and cover” alarm and its loudspeakers warned that the alarm was not a drill.

“They have taken position in two buildings and have been shooting at the airport,” Kabul police chief Mohammad Ayoub Salangi told AFP. “A car bomb that was left there has been defused.

“The remaining enemies are surrounded very tightly. People were rescued from the half-built buildings where the gunmen are holed up.”

Following the deaths of the three insurgents, a spokesman for the interior ministry said there were perhaps “two or three others” still in the buildings. “They have taken buildings and have been firing from there,” spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told AFP/

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack, which began at 4:30 am (1200 GMT). There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The airport is home to a major operational base for NATO-led forces that have been fighting Taliban another insurgents for 12 years and is bristling with soldiers and police, guard towers and several lines of security checkpoints, Reuters news agency reports.

The airport was immediately closed for all flights.

“There were personnel from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) with Afghan forces, but Afghan forces led the operation,” a coalition spokesman told AFP.

Police told Reuters the attack appeared to be centered on the military side of the airport, to the west of the civilian terminal.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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