August 19, 2011 by staff
British Kabul, Taliban bombers laid siege to a British cultural center in the Afghan capital Friday, killing at least nine people during an hour-long assault on the 92 anniversary of Afghanistan’s independence from British rule.
A suicide bomber blew himself up by car at the door of the British Council in Kabul before dawn, another car bomb exploded moments later, while four assailants, three men dressed in all-enveloping burqa robe used by Afghan women, stormed the compound, police said.
Dozens of Afghan and NATO troops surrounded a compound covered with scrap wood and metal, while two helicopters hovered above the watch ultimate fighting at least eight hours, interspersed with a total of eight explosions.
Towards the end of the siege, one of the attackers sought refuge in the basement to bulletproof the building in ruins. There was only one option left to get it out, authorities said: to blow up.
A Reuter’s witness heard two big explosions in quick succession near the end of the siege, around 1 pm Kabul time (0830 GMT).
“Eight members of the Afghan national police and foreign soldiers were killed,” Mohammad Zahir, chief of criminal investigations for the Kabul police, told Reuters. He said he could not confirm the nationality of the foreign soldier.
International Security Assistance by NATO (ISAF) confirmed a foreign soldier died in the attack but did not identify the nationality.
An Interior Ministry statement later said that at least 22 people were injured in the attack on the British Council, an agency funded by the State in implementing cultural programs and English language. Is not part of the British embassy in the diplomatic area of?? Kabul.
Two Britons and South African teachers were inside the compound during the attack, but were rescued by an Afghan elite unit, the British Ambassador to Afghanistan Sir William Patey told a news conference.
“This was a cowardly attack, funky designed to attack British interests, but ultimately ends in death of many Afghans and we regret the deaths of Afghans,” Patey said, adding that the attack was over.
Kabul police chief Mohammad Ayob Salongi police said four Afghans, three British Council Nepalese guards and an Afghan were killed sweeper. He also had no details on the nationality of the foreign soldier.
A Reuters photo taken at the scene showed what appeared to be a white man got on a stretcher with blood on his back and wounds on the back of his head. A second photo shows a Union Jack badge on the left shoulder, and a uniform different from those used by the guards of the British Council.
The Taliban said they were sending two messages: “One for the Afghan government and the British one,” said spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters by telephone.
“We’re reminding them that we will again be independent of all foreigners, especially the British,” Mujahid said, referring to Afghanistan’s independence from British rule 92 years ago, the country was marked on Friday amid greater security.
After the United States, Britain has the second largest force in NATO’s war against the Taliban, with about 9,500 soldiers.
The British Council said it would continue its work in Afghanistan despite the attack.
“This attack should not, and not an obstacle for the British Council to give these young Afghans support they need to be part of a wider world,” said Martin Davidson, executive director of the organization, told reporters in London.
The Taliban refused to say how many bombers were involved in the attack, which come a month after NATO handed over security responsibilities to the Afghans in various areas throughout the country as part of a gradual transition to be completed 2014.
Afghan forces have the responsibility of the city of Kabul since 2008, but NATO forces still police the area greatly.
There is growing concern in the United States and Europe on the costly war and increasingly violent Islamic militants in Afghanistan, which has lasted 10 years, U.S. lawmakers the question of whether to bring home combat troops by 2014 is fast enough.
NATO and the United States earlier this year reluctantly supported the plan for peace in Kabul, which is reconciliation with members of the Taliban. The Taliban have repeatedly said they will not negotiate with the Afghan government until all foreign forces have stopped fighting in their country.
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