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Two killed as 6 bombers attack spy agency in Kabul

17 January, 2013

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KABUL: A squad of suicide bombers attacked the Afghan intelligence agency headquarters in heavily-fortified central Kabul on Wednesday, killing at least two guards and wounding dozens of civilians, officials said.

All six attackers were killed in the brazen midday attack on the National Directorate of Security (NDS), which is playing an increasingly important role in the war against the Taliban as NATO forces prepare to withdraw next year.

The Taliban claimed responsibility in a text message to AFP, saying "a large number of intelligence workers were killed and wounded".

The NDS said one of the attackers detonated a suicide car bomb at the gate while five others got out of a second vehicle and tried to storm the complex on foot – suggesting that a major attack had been planned.

"One suicide attacker detonated one explosive-laden car in front of the entrance of the premises, obviously to pave the way for the five other attackers," NDS spokesman Shafiqullah Taheri told a news conference.

"But after 10 minutes of fighting, they were all killed. We have only one soldier killed."

The second vehicle was rigged with a new kind of explosive for Afghanistan, based on a liquid gel, and was defused just three minutes before it was due to detonate, he said.

Thirty-three people, mainly civilians but including some NDS guards, were taken to hospital and about half were discharged after treatment.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi described the operation to thwart the attack as "an obvious major success for our security forces".

"Our forces managed to kill them all in 10 minutes with minimum casualties, which is a sign of how professional our forces have become," he said.

However, an NDS official, speaking on condition of anonymity, expressed concern at how the attackers had managed to penetrate one of the most heavily-guarded areas of the capital, which includes the police headquarters and the Interior Ministry.

"It’s a big facility and very, very sensitive, with a very high-security installation and system," he said.

It is the second time in little over a month that the NDS has been targeted.

On December 6, a suicide bomber posing as a Taliban peace envoy wounded NDS chief Asadullah Khalid, who is still undergoing treatment in the United States, at a spy agency guesthouse elsewhere in the capital.

Wednesday’s huge explosion was heard throughout Kabul’s diplomatic district, and witnesses said windows were shattered in nearby Chicken Street, a popular shopping destination for Westerners.

Afghan police and other security forces are increasingly targets of Taliban attacks as they take a bigger role in the fight before the NATO withdrawal.

The NDS plays a crucial role in the fight against the Taliban, who have been waging an insurgency since being ousted from power by a 2001 US-led invasion for harbouring al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Violence across the country has been increasing over the last year, sparking concern over how the 350,000-strong Afghan security forces will be able to manage once foreign troops withdraw.

End.

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