Taliban attack on British office in Kabul kills at least 9

KABUL, (Reuters) – Five Taliban attackers laid siege  to a British cultural centre in the Afghan capital today,  killing at least nine people during an hours-long assault on the  92nd anniversary of Afghanistan’s independence from British  rule.
A suicide bomber in car blew himself up in front of the gate  of the British Council in Kabul before dawn, and another car  packed with explosives detonated moments later while four  attackers, three of them men clad in the burqa headcovering worn  by Afghan women, stormed the compound, police said.
Scores of Afghan and NATO troops surrounded a compound  strewn with wooden and metal debris while two helicopters  hovered on watch above as the fighting progressed over at least  eight hours, interspersed by a total of eight blasts.
Toward the end, the last of the four attackers who fought  into the compound holed himself up in the bulletproof basement  of the shattered building. There was only one option left to get  him out, authorities said: blow him up.
A Reuters witness heard two big blasts in close succession  near the siege’s end, around 1 p.m. Kabul time (0830 GMT).
“Eight members of the Afghan national police and one foreign  soldier were killed,” Mohammad Zahir, head of criminal  investigations for the Kabul police, told Reuters. He said he  was not able to confirm the nationality of the foreign soldier.
A ministry of interior spokesman said at least 16 people  were wounded in the attack on the British Council, a  state-funded agency running mainly cultural programmes. It is  not part of the main British embassy in Kabul’s diplomatic zone.
Two British nationals and one South African were inside the  compound during the attack, but were later rescued by an elite  Afghan unit, British Ambassador to Afghanistan Sir William Patey  told a press conference.
“This was a dastardly, cowardly attack designed to attack  British interests, but ultimately ending in the deaths of many  Afghans and we regret the death of the Afghans,” Patey said,  adding that the attack was over.
Kabul police chief Mohammad Ayob Salongi said four Afghan  police, three Nepalese British Council guards and one Afghan  street cleaner were killed. He too had no details on the  nationality of the foreign soldier.

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