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Assault on Kabul: Taliban claim attacks as show of strength

Teams of insurgents struck within Kabul and three other cities in coordinated attacks on Sunday. A Taliban spokesman called it the opening of their spring offensive.

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Simultaneously, Taliban gunmen snuck inside the Afghan Milli Bank branch near Parliament on the west side of Kabul. There are no reports of casualties, but several members of parliament took up weapons and fired back on the militants from parliament, according to parliamentarian Mohammad Naeem Lalai.

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A third attack in Kabul took place against NATO’s military base in the eastern part of Kabul, along the road heading east to Jalalabad.

In Jalalabad, at the gate to the city's airport – where US troops are based – there are reports of a suicide attack. And Taliban gunmen are also reported to have attacked the governor’s house in Pul-e Alam, the capital of Logar Province, which borders Kabul Province to the south. Fighting is also reported in the capital of the southeastern province of Paktia

In an emailed statement, the Ministry of Interior says its forces identified and intercepted a car carrying explosives. “During the fight a [Toyota van] full of explosives was driving on the Darul Aman road and was recognized by the security personnel and was blown up,” the ministry statement says.

Residents losing faith in security

Mohammad Rahim, a shopkeeper on Kabul’s Butcher Street, says he can’t understand how the Taliban were able to mount such an attack in Kabul itself.

"There is military and police everywhere on the streets of Kabul, they check cars coming to Kabul from provinces, but still these kind of massive attacks happen,” Mr. Rahim says. “It means that even the security people are helping them [the Taliban] or the police personnel are lazy in their jobs."

He says he has lost faith in the government and foreign forces to bring security in the country.

"Everyone in the leadership is just busy with corruption, foreigners are corrupt too. Just poor people are suffering because of insecurity and poverty,” he says. “See how many poor and those people who work on streets would be killed today? I believe there will be a lot." 

Chargul, a money changer, was standing along the road near the Iranian embassy when he heard the sound of gunfire near Charahe Zanbaq and 17th street of Kabul's upscale Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood.

"After the shooting there was a big blast at first minute and then huge firing started,” says Chargul, who uses only one name. “People just started to run to safe areas. All I could see was just some dust in the air." 

Chargul thinks that a coordinated attack like the one that happened today is too complex for an ill-educated group of gunmen like the Taliban.

"Taliban originally came from madrasas [the religious seminaries],” he says. “They have no idea about fighting. It is Pakistan who trains them and gives them plans for attacks." 

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