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Gunmen launched a pre-dawn raid on a military compound in Kabul on Monday, officials said, killing at least five soldiers and wounding 10, officials said.
The assault, which began at 5am and continued till long after day-break with security forces battling the insurgents, was the latest in a wave of relentless militant attacks in Kabul this month by the Taliban and rival militant Islamic State (IS) group militants that have killed scores and left hundreds wounded.
At least five insurgents were involved in the morning assault, according to defence ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri. Two of the attackers were killed in the gunbattle, two detonated their suicide vests and one was arrested by the troops, he said.
Officials said the attack was on an army battalion near the academy where high-ranking officers are trained and which was initially identified as the target.
An Afghan security source said the gunmen had not managed to enter the heavily fortified compound, which is on the western outskirts of the city.
Witnesses told AFP they heard several explosions and gunfire at around 5am.
An AFP reporter at the scene said he could “hear explosions”. Security forces had swarmed the area and blocked the road leading to the area where fighting took place.
An officer inside the training academy said he heard an explosion followed by an exchange of gunfire. Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid confirmed to AFP there had been rocket and gunfire.
IS claimed responsibility for the attack.
“Islamic State fighters targeted the military academy in the city of Kabul in a suicide attack,” IS said via its propaganda arm Amaq.
The attack comes days after a Taliban suicide attacker driving an explosives-packed ambulance blew up in a crowded area of the city, killing and wounding hundreds.
At least 103 people were killed and 235 wounded in Saturday’s lunchtime attack ─ one of the worst bombings in the city in recent years ─ which was followed by a national day of mourning in the war-weary country.
The government has blamed the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network, which Afghan and Western officials suspect of involvement in at least some of the recent attacks in the capital.
Monday’s raid came as both the insurgents and the IS have escalated their attacks on Kabul, turning it into one of the deadliest places in Afghanistan for civilians.
On January 20, Taliban insurgents stormed Kabul’s landmark Intercontinental hotel and killed at least 25 people, the majority foreigners.
But there is still confusion over the true toll from that attack with conflicting figures given by officials and Afghan media reporting higher numbers Kabul is on high alert as the city braces for further attacks.
Security warnings sent to foreigners in recent days said IS militants were planning to attack supermarkets, hotels and shops frequented by foreigners.