Taliban bombers give Kabul Baghdad treatment

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Kabul, Jan.18 (ANI): The Taliban launched a series of well-coordinated bombings near the presidential palace in Kabul on Monday.

According to the Afghan Voice Agency,the first bomb was detonated at 9:45 a.m. local time at the five-star Hotel Kabul Serena, located 500 meters (yards) from the presidential palace.The attackers set off a second bomb at the Malik Asghar intersection. This was close to the central government ministries of foreign affairs, the economy, education, and Kabul municipality.

According to Juan Cole, President of the Global Americana Institute, machine gun fire echoed through Kabul all day, as streets were deserted.

He also said that a platoon of armed insurgents held the five-storey downtown Kabul City Center shopping mall under seige and fired at nearby government buildings and banks.

The gunmen then engaged with Afghan National Army troops. Afghan government and NATO helicopters arrived to give air support against the attackers.

Eyewitnesses report that the attackers killed and wounded dozens of people.

Then the shopping center was set on fire, and the fire brigrades raced toward it and toward the Hotel Serena. A second shopping center, Gulbahar, was also bombed or set ablaze.

The News (Pakistan) reported that by mid-afternoon Afghanistan officials were saying that the situation was under control.

At least ten persons were left dead, including four suicide bombers. Thirteen were reported injured.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that 20 guerrillas, some armed with suicide belts, had come into the city to target the presidential palace and government edifices.

The attack seems likely to have aimed at making Karzai look weak and not in control on the eve of his attendance at the upcoming London international conference on Afghanistan. (ANI)

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