As it happened: Co-ordinated Afghan attacks

Key points

  • Taliban militants say they have launched several co-ordinated attacks across Afghanistan as part of a "spring offensive".
  • The parliament, US, British, German and Russian embassies as well as Nato heaquarters and a hotel in Kabul are among the targets.
  • Militants say they have also targeted sites in Logar, Nangarhar and Paktia provinces as well as in Jalalabad.
  • Mortars have also been fired at a Nato base on Kabul's outskirts.
  • Intelligence officials say three people were captured ahead of an intended attack on one of President Hamid Karzai's deputies.
  • Afghan officials say 14 insurgents have been killed.

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    Welcome to the BBC coverage of what appears to be a series of co-ordinated militant attacks in the Afghan capital, Kabul, as well as in a number of other cities.


    Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters news agency the attacks were the beginning of an insurgent spring offensive.

    1239: The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul Kabul

    says Afghan quotes police and intelligence officials as saying insurgents have taken over a fuel station and are firing at an international logistical warehouse in the east of Kabul.


    Here is a gallery of the first images of the Afghan army and police response to the attacks in Kabul.


    Afghan government translator Sardar Wali told the BBC militants entered a hotel about 150m away from the German embassy and "started rocket attacks".

    1256: Idrees Ghairat in Kabul says:

    I am near to the Kabul Star Hotel and can see the smoke rising. The fighting is around us and I have heard the blasts and gunfire.


    Sardar Wali adds: "I can see smoke and fires caused by the attacks from my apartment window. The heavy rocket fire stopped at about an hour ago but shooting is still taking place."


    Zia Astana is about 500 metres away from the attacks and says:

    We hear gunfire every one or two minutes, and there have been several blasts so far. I am safe in an office block, but I am staying away from windows and keeping my head down. I can hear what sounds like rockets, so it is very worrying.


    Brig Gen Carsten Jacobson from the International Security Assistance Force tells the BBC there are no confirmed reports of casualties at this time.

    1311: The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul

    says a number of politicians in the Afghan Parliament building in the east of Kabul report the site has come under sporadic attack from gunfire and rocket propelled grenades.

    1316: Shapoor in Kabul

    I myself am stuck in the emergency hospital near the embassies. We can hear rocket, small arms fire all around us. All the staff are in a panic. No one can leave. It has been like this for two hours. There was a break but again there are harsh sounds of different rifles. The insurgents are in a newly-built building. There is a fight between national armies and insurgents now.


    Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tells Reuters: "These attacks are the beginning of the spring offensive and we had planned them for months."


    The UK embassy was also one of the targets, with two rockets hitting a guard tower. A rocket-propelled grenade was also reportedly fired into a house used by British diplomats. A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We can confirm that there in an ongoing incident in the diplomatic area of Kabul. We are in close contact with Embassy staff."

    Smoke rises from tower at British embassy in Kabul on 15 April 2012

    Here's a picture showing smoke rising from a security tower at the British embassy.


    Statements from the US and Germany given more details of the attacks. The US said there were attacks "in the vicinity" of its embassy. The German Foreign Ministry said there was some damage in the grounds of its embassy but it did not appear that anyone had been hurt.


    A British security worker tells the BBC he witnessed the attacks from a roof of a building about 800m away. "We could see smoke and RPGs being used and the Afghan security forces returning fire. Went on for over an hour before becoming sporadic. Recent intelligence has indicated that there was a large coordinated attack being planned, so no surprise."


    There's now a map on our news story showing the locations of all the incidents across Afghanistan.


    According to Kyodo news agency, three rockets landed in the Japanese embassy but nobody was injured and staff had already been evacuated to a nearby air raid shelter.


    The International Security Assistance Force media spokesperson tweets: ANSF continues to respond to attacks in #Kabul. ISAF continues to stand by to support, if requested.


    In an updated statement, the UK Foreign Office says all its embassy staff are "accounted for".


    Reuters is quoting the the Afghan Interior Ministry as saying that fighting in Eastern Nangarhar and Paktia provinces has now ended.

    Smokes rises from attack scene in Jalalabad

    The latest images from Jalalabad in the east of the country show Afghan National Army soldiers keeping watch at the site of a reported suicide attack.


    A medical source in Kabul tells the Associated Press news agency five people had been wounded in the attacks, and at least two militants are reported dead in the city.

    1424: The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul

    tweets: #AFG Senior Afghan intelligence&police officials: Haqqani network was behind attacks in Kabul&provinces. They wanted 2 kill 2VP Khalili.


    How organised are the Taliban? Writing in February, BBC correspondent Bilal Sarwary considered their strength in the wake of a leaked Nato report apparently expressing concern over the future.


    An update on the situation in Kabul comes in a statement from the office of the city's police chief. ''As a result of the shooting by the Afghan National Security forces, three suicide attackers are killed and the remaining two are still fighting."


    An eyewitness at the Greek base in Kabul reports that Nato troops returned fire after coming under attack.


    According to the eyewitness six attackers opened fire on a convoy of French troops on the road to Jalalabad. They returned fire with heavy machine guns before the Greek base itself came under attack from small arms and rocket propelled grenades. The Greek troops returned fire and "repressed" the attack. Two attack helicopters were called in but did not open fire.


    According to unverified report, from Afghan broadcaster channel Shamshad TV, eight people were wounded, and two militants killed, in the attack in the eastern city of Gardez, in Paktia.


    Afghan security officials in Logar province tell the BBC a "serious gun battle is still going on.'' Three police, three intelligence officers and three Afghan National Army soldiers have been injured. They add: ''Three suicide attackers have been killed, and rocket propelled grenades and AK-47s have been seized from them."


    In a second statement reported by Reuters, the Taliban say they have attacked the heavily-guarded palace compound of President Hamid Karzai. There was no independent verification of the claim.


    An intelligence official gives more details to the AFP news agency on the report that one of President Karzai's two deputies, Mohammad Karim Khalili, was a target of the attacks. Two would-be suicide bombers and another armed individual are being held. "They were armed with suicide vests, guns and other explosives," spokesman Lutfullah Mashal says.


    US Ambassador Ryan Crocker to Kabul tells CNN that the response by Afghan security is a "clear sign of progress".

    1514: Farid in Kabul

    I am located at Wazir Akbar Khan Area close to the gunfire. We are locked down in the office, no movement till further notice. The shooting is still going on and the sounds of heavy shooting such as RPGs and gunfire is still in progress.

    1524: Yasin in Kabul:

    People have closed their shops and gone home, as there were many different attacks happening.


    Afghan President Hamid Karzai was moved to a safe area after the attacks and is under lockdown in Kabul, an aide tells the AFP news agency.


    More from US Ambassador Ryan Crocker's interview on CNN. "Taliban very good at issuing statements, less good at fighting," he says. It comes after the Taliban vows to launch similar attacks in future.

    Travel agency in Kabul closes after attacks

    An Afghan Army soldier helps staff close a travel agency during the attacks in Kabul.


    Latest tally from the Afghan government on the number of casualties across the country, according to the Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs on Twitter. A total of 14 insurgents killed by police in Kabul, Jalalabad, Paktia, and Logar; 14 police and nine civilians wounded.


    Worth noting that the last attack on Kabul on this scale was in September 2011 when heavily armed insurgents took over an unfinished high-rise building and opened fire on the US embassy and Nato headquarters. A month earlier, suicide attackers stormed the British Council office in the city, killing eight Afghan policemen and a foreign security official.


    While images from Kabul and the provinces filed by news agencies suggest Isaf and US troops and aircraft did become involved after the attacks, the international peacekeeping force said Afghan forces had taken the lead in repelling the insurgents.


    AP correspondent Heidi Vogt notes on Twitter that the Taliban technique in Kabul of taking up positions in construction sites overlooking the government buildings and diplomatic missions to launch attacks, appeared now to be firmly in its "playbook".


    The map on our news story has been updated again and now shows the specific locations of the attacks in Kabul.

    1632: The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul:

    Afghan police officials and eyewitnesses say sporadic gunfire is still taking place in the city.

    1637: Nick in Kabul emails:

    Kabul is a very large city and most people just got on with their business. US embassy and Isaf are always the centre of enemy attention. Play down the incidents as any hysterical reporting only benefits the enemy's cause.

    1638: Wafi in Kabul emails:

    I was at work when I heard about the attacks. I left for home and you could sense the chaos and insecurity on the roads with people restricting their movements. It's very sad. Thanks to security forces for their bravery and courage.


    A press release from the International Security Assistance Force throws some more light on Nato involvement today. Its "quick reaction forces" had been prepared to respond to the attacks but were not needed, Isaf says, adding that the Taliban action was "largely ineffective".


    Hameed Elmi, deputy spokesman for President Hamid Karzai, tells the BBC claims the presidential palace came under attack were untrue. A Taliban statement quoted by Reuters earlier suggested the site had been targeted.

    1705: The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul

    says one insurgent is still putting up "stiff resistance" on a rooftop on the Kabul to Jalalabad road outside the capital.


    Gen John R. Allen, Isaf commander, says he is "enormously proud" of how quickly Afghan security forces responded to the attacks. "The fighting goes on this evening, and Isaf is standing by to support our Afghan partners when and if they need it," he added.


    Afghan Ministry of Interior now says that 13 insurgents have been killed across the country during today's attacks: 4 in Kabul, 3 in Jalalabad, 3 in Paktia, 3 in Logar. One insurgent has been arrested, in Logar.


    Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle says that no staff were injured in the attack on the German embassy in Kabul, which caused minor damage to the grounds. Germany "will not give in to the violence of the terrorists," he says.


    The Afghan National Security Forces have released a statement on their response to the attacks:

    "Afghan Crisis Response Units along with Afghan police and Army forces deployed to repel the attacks that resulted in light casualties while killing or capturing many of the suicide attackers in a matter of hours. National Directorate of Security announced that they had captured two suicide bombers alive before they were able to reach their intended targets. Isaf quick reaction forces were prepared to respond if required but were not needed."


    Reuters reports that fighting continues in the Wazir diplomatic district of the capital and the Afghan parliament, according to Kabul's police chief General Ayoub Salangi.

    Massoud Hossaini in Kabul

    tweets: I left the site of the #Kabul attack while clash was going on and even now there are sound of explosion from that area


    Afghan defence ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimi says that the area of the Kabul to Jalalabad road seized by attackers has been cleared:

    "Four suicide attackers were killed, and one was arrested alive. Afghan army forces have seized huge amounts of AK-47s and RPGs.''

    Afghan men stand around the wreckage of a car used by a suicide attacker in Jalalabad province (April 15, 2012) Afghan men stand around the wreckage of a car used by a suicide attacker in Jalalabad province

    Afghanistan's Interior Ministry has updated number of dead across the country to 17 insurgents killed, and two arrested.

    Maria in Kabul

    emails: Throughout the day we've heard sporadic gunfire to loud explosions that shook the ground. However unsuccessful the attacks may have been militarily they did achieve the goal of scaring the internationals.


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