Taliban insurgency rocks Kabul

Taliban militants launched a full-scale assault Monday morning in Kabul, Afghanistan. Detonating suicide bombs and launching grenades at the presidential palace gates, the attack was the largest in the past year.

During the attack 12 bystanders died including a child, an intelligence agent, two policemen and two civilians, Interior Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar told the Associated Press.

The minister said among the 71 wounded, 36 were either police or security officers and that most of their injuries were caused by hand grenade blasts. The other 35 of the wounded were civilians.

The group of militants numbered around 10 to 20, according to the Associated Press.

At 9:15 a.m. the city of Kabul woke up to explosions and gunfire near Feroshahe Afghan Shopping Center and the Serena Hotel. The suicide bombers attacked key government buildings and even targeted civilians in the streets.

Two hours later, a suicide bomber in a van painted to resemble an ambulance blew himself up after he arrived at the Education Ministry Compound, according to the Reuters Web  site.

The violence continued until 1 p.m. when three attackers took over the Bayman Hotel housing office and stores. Two hours later, the Afghan security forces gunned them down.

The Afghanistan police and the Afghanistan National Army are supposed to be in charge of the capital city, Kabul, but the city still expects attacks.

The Monday assault added another chapter of violence in the country’s history. The attack follows a weekend incident that killed at least three international troops and 14 militants in Afghanistan.

According to one of the parliament members, Fawzia Koofi, the attack occurred at the same time the 14 members of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s cabinet were being sworn in.

In an interview with CNN Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said, “About 20 Taliban insurgents entered the presidential palace, the ministries of finance, mines and justice, and the Serena Hotel.”

Small explosions, gunfire and suicide bomber attacks erupted close to the presidential palace, the Central Bank, Pashtunistan Square and the Ministry of Justice gates.

When interviewed by CNN, one of the Taliban militants explained that the reason for their new assault was their answer to the U.S and Afghanistan’s campaign to end the war.

Karzai recently has encouraged Taliban fighters to switch sides, and fight for the Afghanistan military. Upon switching sides, they would receive benefits for reintegrating into society.

As the international conference in London approaches, Jan. 28, the group shares itsopinion about the two governments peace campaign.

“We are ready to fight, and we have the strength to fight, and nobody from the Taliban side is ready to make any kind of deal. The world and the international forces are trying to buy the Taliban, and that is why we are showing that we are not for sale,” said Taliban spokesman Mujahid.

An employee of the Finance Ministry in Afghanistan, Emal Masood, told the British Broadcasting Corp., “tension brought by the Taliban seems to be a recurrent nightmare to Afghan civilians,” Masood said. “You never know when you leave your house whether you’re going to come back alive to your family.”