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April 21, 2019

Seven killed as ministry building attacked in Kabul

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April 21, 2019

KABUL: Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the Communications Ministry in central Kabul on Saturday, officials said, in a deadly, hours-long assault that destroyed weeks of relative calm in the capital.

"As a result of today´s explosion/attack in Kabul city, two people have been martyred and 6 others are wounded," the Health Ministry spokesman wrote in a tweet, adding 3 of the injured were women.

In a statement, the Interior Ministry said four civilians and three soldiers had been killed, though unverified social media posts suggested the final toll could be higher.

The Taliban said it had "nothing to do" with the attack, which left some 2,000 people stranded in the tall office building for hours at the start of the Afghan work week. No other group claimed immediate responsibility, but the Afghan branch of the Islamic State group has previously carried out multiple deadly attacks in the capital.

Journalists heard one big blast around 11:40 am, followed by sporadic gunfire for hours afterwards. "The information that we have is four attackers have placed themselves near the Communication Ministry and are engaged in gun battles with the Afghan security forces," Amanduddin Shariati, a security official in Kabul said. By about 5:00 pm, the Interior Ministry declared the assault over. "Operations finished. All suicide bombers killed & more than 2000 civilians staff rescued," the ministry said on Twitter. Panicked workers inside the 18-storey building, believed to be Kabul´s tallest, moved up to the top floor as gunmen and Afghan security officials battled lower down.

One woman said she had been in a group of about 30 people on the 10th floor when the assault started, then was told to move up to the 18th floor as gunfire increased. They were all eventually rescued by commandos. "Women were screaming and children of the kindergarten were the first to be evacuated," the woman, who did not want to be named, said.

Afghan authorities gave conflicting reports during the incident. The Information Ministry initially said three suicide bombers had attacked a post office building at the ministry.

General Sayed Mohammad Roshan Dil, the Kabul police chief, said four attackers had been wearing police uniforms and had targeted a shrine near the ministry. Footage on local television showed a small plume at the building, and people climbing out windows on a lower level.

The presidential palace said in a statement "the enemies of Afghanistan have conducted a terrorist attack". "Once again they have created fear and have killed or wounded a number of innocent countrymen," the statement read.

Xinhua adds: Eleven people were killed and eight civilians wounded after assailants armed with gun, grenades and suicide bomb jackets stormed a government office building in the central of Afghanistan's capital of Kabul on Saturday.

The killed included four civilians, three security force members and four attackers, Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs said in a statement.

The elite Afghan Special Forces have rescued 2,800 employees and visitors from MCIT building and the nearby Ministry of Information and Culture building. Three suspected men were also arrested by the elite troops from around the site of the attack.

The incident caused panic among the people and all the shops were closed down following the attack in the main business hub of the city.

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