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Militants attack in Kabul leaves 16 dead

(Xinhua)

13:12, September 15, 2011

Afghan security members carry the dead body of an Afghan policeman after a gun battle between militants with Afghan security forces close to the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 14, 2011. Xinhua/ Ahmad Massoud)

KABUL, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- At least 16 people were killed and over 30 others injured when Taliban carried out 20-hour coordinated attacks in different parts of Afghan capital of Kabul which ended Wednesday morning.

The attacks began at 13:20 local time (0850 GMT) Tuesday in Abdul Haq square in central Kabul, followed by three separate suicide attacks in other parts of the city with an estimated 3.5 million population.

Armed militants took up a 12-story uncompleted building on the edge of the Abdul Haq square, and shortly began firing on the U.S. embassy, NATO-led ISAF headquarters and a compound home to several government office buildings.

Afghan Interior Ministry confirmed that 16 people were killed around the city, including six militants holed up in the tall building.

Police called on residents to stay in their homes near the site. However, sporadic gunfire could be heard overnight.

The streets were deserted in parts of Kabul on Wednesday morning with poor attendance of government employees.

A statement issued by Public Health Ministry Wednesday afternoon said a total of 31 injured including three children, four women, four police received treatment in government-run hospitals in Kabul with none of them in critical conditions.

Two local journalists were also injured in Wazir Akbar Khan diplomatic district where U.S. embassy is located after several rocket propelled grenades landed there.

The multiple attacks occurred after Afghan police and army took over security control of Kabul province except Surobi district from NATO-led coalition forces.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in Kabul Tuesday night.

"The enemy does everything they can to affect the process of transition of security responsibilities to Afghan government," Karzai said in the statement, "The attacks cannot stop the process (transition) from taking place and can not affect, but rather embolden our people's determination in taking the responsibility for their country's own affairs."

The President also praised the rapid reaction by the brave security personnel in controlling the situation without allowing terrorists to inflict further human and material losses. Their timely reaction demonstrates their improved ability, the statement said.

Afghanistan is due to take over the responsibility for its own security from NATO-led International Security Assistance Force ( ISAF) by the end of 2014.

Hours after the gun battle ended, Kabul police said that an explosive-laden car that parked under the uncompleted building was defused by police.

"Several burkas were found in the car used by attackers to disguise themselves as women and pass police checkpoints in the city," said the statement.

The Taliban stepped up their attacks on Afghan and NATO-led troops since a spring rebel offensive was launched in May this year in the war-ravaged country.

The Taliban outfit has also warned the civilians to stay away from official gatherings, military convoys and centers regarded as the legitimate targets by militants.

The militant group warned people against supporting government and foreign troops.

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