Kabul Seige Ends

News Brief – September 14, 2011

Coordinated attacks by the Taliban in Kabul on Tuesday raised fresh doubts over whether Coalition forces could succesfully hand over security operations to their Afghan counterparts.

The attacks began lunchtime when insurgents, believed to be disguised in burqas killed at least one policeman at one of the “ring of steel” checkpoints that enclose the embassy district in Kabul.

Thereafter the insurgents took over a still unfinished building in the area, climbing the scaffolding before raining fire and rocket propelled grenades onto nearby NATO headquarters and the U.S. embassy.

The  insurgents occupied the upper floors of the building and by early evening two were still reportedly holding out on the 10th floor.

The coordinated and wide ranging assault also hit Afghan government buildings in what is Kabul’s equivalent to Baghdad’s Green Zone.

The attack follows a familiar trend in other Afghan cities, including Kandhar, where insurgents seized tall buildings and construction sites to rain down fire on targeted installations.

In effect the Taliban have taken to seizing the “high ground”.

Insurgents attacked Kabul’s International Hotel earlier in June, which is also located on a hilltop, and were only dislodged after five hours of heavy fighting with Afghan security forces and Western Special Forces and repeated strafings by NATO helicopter gunships.   

In recent months the Taliban have hit a string of high profile targets. Late last month two vehicles laden with explosives smashed into the gates of the British Council’s compound in Kabul before heavily armed insurgents swarmed through the compound’s wrecked outer walls.

The compound was retaken only after nearly 8 hours of heavy fighting, which left at least one New Zealand Special Air Service man dead along with 9 other fatalities.   

This latest assault on Kabul’s ‘Green Zone’ only ended on Wednesday morning, nearly 20-hours after it first began, when the insurgents were killed by Afghan security forces.

In all six insurgents had carried out the attack that paralysed much of Kabul for nearly a day.

Their coordinated attack was the first time insurgents have carried out such a complex assault against multiple targets in separate parts of the Afghan capital.

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