Taliban claim responsibility for attacks on police, Kabul hotel

JALALABAD, Afghanistan, March 20 (UPI) -- The Taliban in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for an attack Thursday on a Jalalabad police station and for gunfire at an exclusive Kabul hotel.

Officials said at least 18 people were killed in Jalalabad, RAWA News reported. The details outbreak of violence at the Serena Hotel, which occurred Thursday evening, were murkier, the New York Times said.


In a text message sent to media, Taliban leaders said fighters killed at least 10 police officers in what was called a "multi-pronged" attack, RAWA News reported.

Police said officers shot and killed seven attackers, who were all wearing suicide vests. A civilian also was killed.

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The gun battle raged for several hours after a bomb was detonated, RAWA said. NATO dispatched helicopter gunships to provide support to Afghan security forces.

Witnesses told the BBC that state-run Radio Television Afghanistan was one of several buildings still burning hours after the attack.

Mohammad Habib, another witness, said the explosion rocked Jalalabad.

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"I woke up and my windows were broken," Habib said. "Then there were gun shots and explosions throughout the morning. Now almost half of the city remains closed."


A Taliban spokesman said suicide bombers were able to enter the Serena, an expensive hotel near the presidential palace, Khaama Press reported. But officials said four gunmen attacked and were killed by police.

Some reports said the violence was the result of a dispute between two groups of guests, all of them armed, the Times said.

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Taliban leaders have threatened a campaign of violence in the run-up to Afghanistan's national elections April 5.

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