Second Taliban attack in two days catches Kabul aid workers in crossfire

CARE International personnel were evacuated after a suicide car bombing near their Kabul compound.

Rahmat Gul/AP Photo
Afghan security members inspect at the site of suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday. Militants stormed a building housing an international aid organization in Kabul, provoking an overnight firefight with security forces in which three gunmen were killed and six civilians were wounded.

Militants stormed a building housing an international aid organization in Kabul, provoking an overnight firefight with security forces in which three gunmen were killed and six civilians were wounded, Afghan officials said Tuesday.

The attack took place a day after twin bombings near the Afghan Defense Ministry killed at least 35 people and wounded more than 100 others.

Police special forces killed all three gunmen involved in an overnight attack in the Shar-e Naw district of the Afghan capital, Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Afghan interior minister said.

Six civilians were wounded in the attack, according to the Interior Ministry. It initially said one civilian had been killed but a later statement clarified that only three militants had died.

An Interior Ministry statement said that a suicide car bombing struck close to a building belonging to the charity CARE International in Shar-e Naw late Monday night, after which three more attackers entered the building.

"Police special forces immediately reached the site of the attack and started rescuing people from the building .... 42 people who were trapped were evacuated by the security forces," the Interior Ministry statement said.

In a statement on Tuesday, CARE said that on Monday night "an armed group launched an attack on what is believed to have been an Afghan government compound located close to the Kabul office of CARE International." It said the incident continued through to the early morning, "with damages sustained to the CARE compound."

"All CARE staff have been evacuated, are safe and are accounted for," it confirmed.

The area is home to several guest houses and many foreigners and diplomats reside there. Security forces have blocked all the roads leading to Shar-e Naw.

The shooting comes after at least 35 people were killed Monday in twin bombings near the Afghan Defense Ministry that were later claimed by the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that 100 people were wounded in the bombings, and that five army officers were among the 35 killed. The death toll had risen considerably overnight.

Sediqqi, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said a district police chief and five other police officers were killed. A district police chief and an army general were among those killed in the attack, three officials told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

Deputy defense ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish said the second bombing was caused by a suicide attacker who struck the area of the first blast after security forces had gathered there. He said the attack took place as ministry employees were leaving their offices for the day. Senior police investigator Faredoon Obiadi said the suicide attacker was wearing military uniform.

Dozens of ambulances raced to the scene after the blasts, and security forces blocked off roads leading to the area.

Ashuqullah, 34, who like many Afghans has no surname, described the scene of chaos he witnessed.

"The second explosion was so strong, and many people, including security officials, were killed and wounded," he said.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack in a statement, saying "the enemies of Afghanistan have lost their ability to fight the security and defense forces of the country and thus attack highways, cities, mosques, schools and common people."

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said his group had carried out the attack. The insurgents have been fighting to overthrow the U.S.-backed government for 15 years, and frequently target Afghan security forces.

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