[Marxism] Celebrating Afghan Independence Day
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Aug 19 06:53:26 MDT 2011
Insurgents storm British compound in Kabul
By Joshua Partlow, Updated: Friday, August 19, 8:38 AM
KABUL — Taliban insurgents blew up a truck outside the British
cultural center in Kabul, then stormed the compound and fought a
gun battle for more than five hours with Afghan security forces
trying to dislodge them.
The violence left at least eight people dead and 12 wounded,
including several Afghan policemen, officials said, and it came on
the anniversary of Afghanistan’s 1919 independence from Britain.
News services reported that as many as 10 were killed, including
eight Afghan policemen, an Afghan municipal worker and a security
guard whose nationality was not immediately clear. The radical
Islamist Taliban movement claimed responsibility for the assault.
Hundreds of Afghan police and soldiers, along with British,
American and French troops, surrounded the gray concrete-walled
British Council as smoke billowed from one of its buildings.
Britain’s Foreign Office later said that all the attackers were
killed and that no British nationals were hurt. Alistair Burt,
minister for the Middle East in the Foreign Office, condemned the
attack as “despicable” and vowed that Britain would not be deterred.
The first explosion occurred at 6:00 a.m. in the Kart-e-Parwan
neighborhood of the Afghan capital. A second, smaller blast from a
suicide bomber followed soon after, and other insurgents entered
the compound. A gas station attendant working across the divided
highway from the British Council, where British employees work
alongside Nepalese guards known as Gurkhas, said he saw the first
Afghan police truck arrive and then saw two of the policemen get
shot and fall to the ground.
Over the next several hours, there were many bursts of gunfire and
at least two more explosions as Afghan police commandos attempted
to clear the building of insurgents. Afghan officials said those
inside were throwing hand grenades.
The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack and
asserted that both Afghans and foreigners were among the casualties.
At least four times, authorities carried out wounded or slain
people and put them on stretchers and hauled them to ambulances.
One of them was a Nepalese guard wearing a British Embassy guard
force hat. He appeared to have burns on his face.
Two NATO attack helicopters circled low over the compound as white
smoke rose from inside, and armored vehicles stretched far down
the highway as the standoff dragged on.
“The good news is that the British nationals that were in the
compound made it to the safe room and they are alive and well in
it,” said a U.S. military official who was at the scene advising
the Afghan national police. “The Gurkhas put up a good fight, and
they were able to push the attack back.”
The U.S. military official expressed concern about further violence.
“We got word that a Taliban commander is coordinating the effort
from somewhere in the vicinity, so we are expecting a secondary
hit,” he said. “That’s why everybody is a little bit jumpy right now.”
The U.S. military official said a team of Afghan police commandos
worked to clear the building along with a French bomb team and
The blasts took place along a main divided highway of the city,
near the houses of prominent Afghan officials such as Vice
President Mohammad Qasim Fahim as well as former presidential
candidate Abdullah Abdullah. A row of two-story buildings selling
car parts were damaged in the explosions, and shattered glass was
scattered on the street. The remains of what appeared to be a car
bomb stood about 30 feet from the compound.
On Thursday, 22 Afghan civilians were killed in the western city
of Herat when a minibus drove over an improvised explosive device,
according to Mohyuddin Noori, a spokesman for the Herat provincial
Noori also said that another vehicle hit another roadside bomb
Thursday morning in the same district, seriously wounding six
civilians and killing one.
Both Kabul and Herat — considered to be two of the country’s
safest provinces — were among the areas formally handed over to
Afghan forces this summer.
Special correspondent Javed Hamdard and staff writer Kevin Sieff
contributed to this report.
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