Thu, 23 May 2019

About a dozen people were killed during an attack Saturday on the Communications Ministry building in Kabul, authorities said, ending a spell of relative calm in the Afghan capital.

The Interior Ministry said on Twitter the nearly five-hour attack had ended and that 'all suicide bombers were killed.'

The attack on the Communications Ministry began shortly before midday with an explosion at the entrance to the building. Police Chief General Sayed Mohammad Roshandil said a bomber blew himself up outside the ministry, enabling other attackers to enter the heavily guarded government complex in central Kabul.

Police evacuated about 2,800 employees and sealed off the area around the building as at least three attackers battled security forces, ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.

Rahimi said five employees and three security personnel were among those killed. Other attackers were gunned down by Afghan forces, bringing an end to the siege.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack and Taliban militants, who recently announced their now-customary spring offensive, denied they were responsible. The Taliban and Islamic State are active in eastern Afghanistan and have previously claimed responsibility for attacks in Kabul.

The attack interrupted months of relative calm in the Afghan capital and came as the U.S. has held a series of meetings with Taliban representatives to try to reach an agreement to end more than 17 years of war.

A meeting between Taliban and Afghan officials and civil society representatives in Qatar was canceled just days before the attack. Officials have said they hope to reschedule the meeting but a date has not been set.

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