14 killed in Afghan shopping centre blast
Kabul, February 26, 2010
At least 14 people were killed and 32 wounded in Taliban attacks at Kabul's biggest shopping centre on Friday, officials said, the latest audacious assault in the Afghan capital despite a renewed push against the insurgents.
At least four of the dead and some of the wounded were Indian nationals, Abdul Ghafar Sayedzada, the head of the Kabul police's crime investigation department, told Reuters.
The attack came as Nato-led foreign troops and Afghan forces press ahead with an offensive against the Taliban in their stronghold in southern Helmand province, a key element of Washington's new strategy to put down a growing insurgency.
Police said a suicide bomber blew himself up near the entrance to Kabul's biggest shopping centre soon after daybreak. At least two blasts and gunfire were reported in the area, which includes a hotel, guest house and some government buildings.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attacks on behalf of the Islamist militants.
'Our mujahidi (holy warrior) fighters managed to attack in the heart of Kabul city once again,' Mujahid told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.
He said at least five Taliban fighters launched the attack. Two suicide bombers detonated explosives-packed vests near the hotel and the City Centre shopping mall. Three fighters were in the basement of the shopping centre, he said.
Witnesses later said the fighting died down and the situation appeared to be under control.-Reuters