- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 14, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The 20-hour insurgent assault on the heavily guarded Afghan capital left 27 dead — including police, civilians and attackers — when fighting finally ended on Wednesday morning, officials said.

Eleven Afghan civilians were killed, more than half of them children, said U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John Allen. Five Afghan police officers also died, he said.

A total of 11 insurgents also were killed in the fighting, seven of them as NATO and Afghan forces launched an operation to clear the attackers out of a half-built concrete high-rise near the U.S. Embassy and a NATO compound where they were holed up for the assault.

Four other attackers served as suicide bombers in what was a coordinated attack in several areas of Kabul.

The fighting around the high-rise at the Abdul Haq traffic circle finally ended about 9:30 a.m. after a night of roaring helicopters, gunshots and tracers streaking through the sky.

The Afghan Interior Ministry announced that the final holdouts in the 12-story concrete building had been killed, and police officers could be seen clapping their hands in celebration on the roof of the building.

But the coordinated strikes raised fresh doubts about the Afghans’ ability to secure their nation as U.S. and other foreign troops begin to withdraw. Afghan forces nominally have been in control of security in the capital since 2008 but still depend heavily on foreign forces to help protect the city and assist when it comes under attack.

And spectacular attacks in the heavily guarded capital now have become more common. This week’s strike was the third deadly attack in Kabul since late June.

No NATO or U.S. Embassy employees were hurt in the latest attack, though U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said six or seven rockets had hit inside the embassy compound. Four Afghans were wounded when a rocket-propelled grenade hit one of the embassy buildings, CIA Director David H. Petraeus told lawmakers in Washington.

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