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Fighting continues inside British council after attack in Kabul

posted 19 Aug 2011, 05:15 by Mpelembe   [ updated 19 Aug 2011, 05:18 ]
Taliban assailants continue to fight from within the British Council in Kabul, while death toll from attacks climb to at least nine.

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (AUGUST 19, 2011) REUTERS -   One member of a foreign security force and eight Afghan police were killed on Friday (August 19) in a Taliban assault on the British Council in the Afghan capital, Kabul, investigators said.

Mohammad Zahir, head of criminal investigations for the Kabul police, told Reuters over the phone that eight members of Afghan national police force and one foreign soldier were killed. He is not able to confirm the nationality of the foreign soldier.

Up to three assailants were still inside the British Council building fighting against Afghan security forces and NATO troops, Kabul police spokesman Hashmatullah Stanikzai said by telephone.

A British embassy spokesman in Kabul confirmed the attack against the British Council, but declined to say whether there were foreigners inside.

Local residents said gun shots could still be heard.

"As you see there was a bang just now and the fighting is still continuing. People say that bombers are hidden inside the armed rooms, we don't know exactly what is going on," said Yousofi Khan.

Two more loud explosions were heard in the vicinity hours after the initial attacks were felt, Reuter's witnesses said.

Strewn wooden and metal debris lay on the street of the British Council, where Afghan forces and foreign troops from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) rushed to secure the area, Reuters TV showed.

The NATO-led force in Afghanistan also confirmed there had been two explosions near the British Council, which is a state-funded agency running mainly cultural programmes. It is not part of the main British embassy in the diplomatic area of Kabul.

The Taliban said they were sending two messages: "One to the Afghan government and one to the British," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.