Monday, January 18, 2010

Dozens of Taliban suicide bombers, gunmen storm Kabul

Gunfire and explosions continued in Kabul throughout the day Monday, Jan. 18, although official Afghan sources claimed the Taliban assault on the city was over after three hours. Taliban fighters are still thought to be hiding in buildings and international workers have begun the Afghan capital.

In the morning, at least ten suicide bombers backed by gunmen attacked the defense, justice, education and foreign ministries and the national bank. Rockets also landed near the presidential palace as Hamid Karzai was swearing in his new cabinet ministers. The attack, say DEBKAfile's military sources, was a severe setback to Barack Obama's new Afghan strategy, US commanders' belief that the military situation was beginning to stabilize and Karzai's third effort to form a government.

Taliban gunmen also ran through a Kabul shopping center tossing grenades and a blast was reported at a cinema. The Serena Hotel, frequented by foreigners, blazed as the Afghan National Army and police struggled for control. According to first reports, military and intelligence officers died in the assault, although only three people were reported dead and 30 injured. Afghan forces killed five insurgents at the shopping center.