KABUL, Afghanistan – Taliban suicide bombers blew up a car and stormed Kabul traffic police headquarters before dawn today, setting off a gunbattle that raged for six hours and left at least 10 people wounded, police said.
It was the second brazen raid inside the Afghan capital in less than a week, a sign that the insurgency is determined to keep carrying out such spectacular attacks even as the U.S. and Afghan governments try to entice the Taliban into holding peace talks.
The raid started just before dawn when a suicide car bomber blew up his vehicle at the gate of the traffic police department building, close to the Afghan parliament and the Kabul zoo, said the city’s police chief, Mohammad Ayub Salangi.
Then, another two or three attackers “armed with suicide vests and heavy and light weapons entered the compound,” said a statement from Salangi’s office.
According to the statement, six of the 10 wounded were civilians and four were members of the security services. There were no immediate reports of any fatalities among the security forces. At least two of the attackers were killed by police.
Shooting could still be heard outside the compound shortly before noon, but the announcement insisted the situation was under control and that the insurgents were surrounded.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack and said the target of the insurgents was a police training facility “run by foreign military forces.”
The traffic police headquarters is located on a square leading to the parliament and next to the zoo. It is also adjacent to the Afghan border police headquarters. The facility, usually teeming with civilians seeking to get drivers licenses and registrations for vehicles, was nearly empty at the time of the attack.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said the assault began with a suicide car bombing. Two insurgents, he said, were then shot and killed by Afghan forces while four police commandos were wounded.
Sediqi said Afghan forces were carrying out the operation without any assistance from NATO.