- Associated Press - Sunday, April 15, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban launched a series of coordinated attacks on at least seven sites across the Afghan capital on Sunday, targeting NATO headquarters, the parliament and diplomatic residences. Militants also launched near-simultaneous assaults in three other eastern cities.

At least two attackers were killed and five people wounded in the Kabul attacks, which were still under way hours after they began.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility, saying in a statement that scores of suicide bombers were assaulting Kabul and three other provinces.

The attacks in the capital began with bombings in the central neighborhood of Wazir Akbar Khan, where a NATO base as well as a number of embassies, including that of the United States, are located. Gunfire erupted soon after the blasts, forcing people caught out in the street to scramble for cover.

More than 10 explosions in all rocked the capital, and heavy gunfire shook the city for two hours after the initial blast. Smoke rose over the skyline from a few spots as sirens wailed.

In an e-mailed statement, Mr. Mujahid said the attacks were targeting NATO headquarters, the British and German embassies, the Afghan parliament building, the Serena and Kabul Star hotels, and sites along Darulaman Road, where the Russian Embassy is located.

At the same time, Taliban fighters launched assaults on Afghan and NATO installations in the capital cities of Nangarhar, Logar and Paktia provinces, he said.

“In all these attacks, tens of mujahedeen fighters equipped with light and heavy weapons, suicide vests, RPGs, rockets, heavy machine guns and hand grenades are attacking their targets,” Mr. Mujahid said in an email. “Our initial reports indicate that a large number of foreign forces, Afghan police and army are killed and wounded.” The Taliban regularly exaggerate casualty figures.

The American Embassy said in a statement saying that there were attacks “in the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy.” The German Foreign Ministry said there was some damage in the grounds of the German Embassy, but it did not appear that anyone had been hurt.

Militants holed up in a tall building were firing rockets in different directions, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene. It was not immediately clear what they were targeting, but shots appeared to be focusing on the nearby British Embassy.

Britain’s Foreign Office could not provide details of the attack.

“We can confirm that there is an ongoing incident in the diplomatic area of Kabul,” a spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity in line with government policy. “We are in close contact with embassy staff.”

Across town, residents reported a blast near the parliament building.

An official at the parliament, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said an attacker entered a nearby building and opened fire on parliament and the Afghan Commerce Ministry. The official reported hearing a large blast coming from the building. After that, the gunfire subsided.

Militants also fired mortars at the area around a NATO base on Jalalabad Road on Kabul’s outskirts, according to an AP reporter at the scene. A Greek-Turkish base came under heavy fire, and forces were responding with heavy-caliber machine-gun fire.

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