Kabul, March 29: A five-hour gunfight close to Afghanistan’s main election office in Kabul ended Saturday evening after Taliban gunmen were killed in a counter-attack, an official said.
“Five suicide bombers were killed and two policemen were wounded in Saturday’s terrorist attack on the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) office in eastern Kabul,” Deputy Interior Minister in-charge of Security Mohammad Ayoub Salangi told reporters near the site.
The attack began at midday after the militants seized a four-storey building close to the IEC HQ and fired several rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) on the fortified complex besides exchanging fire with security forces, Xinhua reported.
The attack took place days before Afghans go to polls in the country’s third presidential and provincial councils general elections slated for April 5. The Taliban insurgent group has vowed to disrupt the polls.
The militants, armed with heavy guns and RPGs, were covered from head to toe in Muslim women’s attire to pass several security checkpoints, the official noted.
An IEC staff told Xinhua by cell phone that no employee of the body was hurt in the incident.
Smoke was rising from the compound and nobody knew if any sensitive electoral materials were damaged in the incident.
The Afghan Crisis Response Unit and the Afghan Special Forces arrived shortly after the attack.
On Friday, two Afghan civilians and five Taliban insurgents were killed after the militants launched an attack on a US guest house in western Kabul. More than a dozen foreign nationals survived the attack and a powerful car bombing.
“Attacks by terrorist will not deter Afghan National Security Forces from the path they have chosen, providing security for upcoming elections,” Interior Minister Mohammad Omar Daudza said in a statement.
Since early this year, the Taliban insurgent group have launched several attacks on civilian targets.
The Afghan security forces are also taking over security charges from more than 52,000 NATO-led foreign troops who are set to leave the country by the year-end.