Taliban attack on Kabul guest house 'brought to an end'

Policemen arrive at the site of an attack in Kabul Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Afghan special forces and police have surrounded the area, which is close to parliament

A Taliban attack on a guest house in Kabul has come to an end with police killing the last gunman inside, Afghan military sources have told the Reuters news agency.

At least four people were trapped inside the guest house during the attack, officials say.

Afghan special forces were rushed in to fight the attackers, police said.

Fighting continued for much of Friday and the AFP agency has reported that a girl has been killed.

Security has been tight in the Afghan capital, one week ahead of the presidential election.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption It is unclear how many have been killed or injured in the attack
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A witness told the Reuters news agency that about 20 people who appeared to be non-Afghans were evacuated from the guesthouse in an upmarket residential area of Kabul
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption It is the latest in a recent spate of attacks on targets in Kabul

Kabul police chief Mohammad Zahir told the BBC that there were four attackers, including one who detonated explosives in his vehicle, allowing the others to get inside the guest house.

It was unclear how many people were trapped in the guest house, which is run by US-based NGO Roots of Peace.

Roots of Peace country manager Hajji Mohammad Sharif Osmani told Reuters news agency that four people were inside the building during the attacks as the rest had all escaped.

But officials also said they had been told by a man rescued from the building that six others were inside.

A number of foreigners were among those moved out of nearby residential buildings.

There are several guest houses in the same street as the one attacked on Friday, as well as campaign offices for several presidential candidates.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Police battled the attackers throughout Friday - Kabul is already on high alert ahead of presidential elections on 5 April
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The forthcoming elections will be a major test for foreign donors hesitant about supporting the government after most Nato troops based in Afghanistan withdraw later this year

The Taliban on Friday put out a statement saying they had carried out the attack.

Witnesses described how the initial explosion shattered windows. Mohammed Sadi, a resident in the area, told AP news agency that the force of the blast rattled buildings several blocks away.

"At the beginning a powerful explosion happened, which also broke the windows of our house," he said. "Then gunfire started and the police blocked all the roads."

Afghan special forces surrounded the area, officials said, and television footage showed military convoys headed towards the district.

The attack is the latest in the run-up to the vote to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai next Saturday.

Three days ago, the Taliban launched a gun and bomb attack on an office of the Afghan election commission in Kabul.

Another attack a week ago left nine people dead when gunmen broke into an upmarket hotel in Kabul.

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