KABUL: Taliban fighters, carrying assault rifles and wearing suicide
vests, stormed the Justice Ministry and another government building in
Afghanistan's capital Wednesday, forcing workers to flee from windows,
according to government officials and a Taliban spokesman.
Nineteen people were killed in the assault.
The coordinated attacks struck in the heart of Kabul, underscoring the
reach of the Taliban beyond their strongholds in the south and east ahead of
a planned visit by President Barack Obama's special envoy to the region.
Eight assailants also died in the attacks, said Defense Ministry spokesman
Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, bringing to 27 the total deaths.
Azimi said all eight attackers had suicide vests, but only three
assailants set them off.
Five men armed with assault rifles and grenades attacked the Justice
Ministry in late morning – and they appeared to control it for at least a
But by midday, about two hours after the attacks began, Afghan security
forces waved from windows in an apparent all-clear sign, according to an AP
reporter on the scene. All five attackers were killed in a shootout with
Justice Minister Sarwar Danesh spoke to The Associated Press while he was
briefly trapped inside the ministry with a number of government employees.
“They used grenades and AK-47s,” Danesh said of the attackers, speaking
by mobile phone.
A ministry worker said he scrambled out of a second-floor window to escape
an advancing gunman.
“I came out of my office to see what was going on, and I saw a man with
an AK-47 shooting at every employee he saw in the hall,” said ministry
employee Nazir Mohammad, shaking as he spoke.
Another two men blew themselves up at the ministry's correction department
in northern Kabul, Azimi said.
Afghanistan's Health Minister, Mohammad Amin Fatimie, said at least 19
people were killed between the two attacks.
In a third incident near the Education Ministry, police shot dead another
attacker, said police officer Zulmay Khan. No one else was reported to have
been killed at that scene and it was unclear if he was targeting the
Education Ministry, which is very close to the Justice Ministry.
Zabiullah Mujaheed, a spokesman for the Taliban, said the attacks were in
response to the alleged mistreatment of Taliban prisoners in Afghan
“We have warned the Afghan government to stop torturing our prisoners,”
Mujaheed told the AP in a phone call from an undisclosed location. “Today we
attacked Justice Ministry compounds.”
The Taliban regularly use suicide bombings in their assaults on Afghan and
foreign troops, but the heavily barricaded capital had been largely spared of
major attacks recently. AP