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Suicide bombers, gunmen attack central Kabul

Taliban gunmen, some wearing suicide vests, launched a commando-style assault on government buildings in the center of Kabul on Monday, underscoring the perilous security situation in the Afghan capital.

Suicide bombers, gunmen attack central KabulIt was the worst attack on the city in nearly a year. Gunfire and loud explosions could be heard across the capital and a huge column of smoke was pouring out of a shopping center that was at the heart of the attacks.

By mid-day, the main attack on the presidential palace and ministries in the center of town seemed to have been repelled, with fighters now holed up inside the shopping center, that was on fire and surrounded by Afghan police and security officials.

While the gun battle there was underway, a suicide car bomber exploded his vehicle outside another shopping center nearby killing several police and security officials, a security source said. Another blast was later reported near a cinema several hundred meters (yards) away.

The Taliban said 20 of their fighters were involved in the attacks, which targeted the presidential palace, justice ministry, ministry of mines and a presidential administrative building, all clustered in the center of town.

It was not immediately clear how many were killed, but the apparent ease with which the militants penetrated the heart of the city underlines the challenges facing President Hamid Karzai.

It also appears to be a slap in the face for his new initiative to lure Taliban fighters to lay down their arms that he plans to announce at an international conference in London this month.

The initiative is a key part of U.S. President Barack Obama‘s new strategy, which will also see 30,000 extra troops sent to turn the tide against a mounting insurgency.

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