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Child killed in Kabul attack on guesthouse

Kabul, March 28 (Reuters): Taliban gunmen stormed a Kabul guesthouse used by a US-based aid group and held four foreigners hostage for several hours today, just eight days before Afghanistan holds a presidential election which the militant group has vowed to derail.

At least one Afghan child was killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the building and insurgents forced their way in. There were no casualties among foreigners.

A Reuters witness saw about 20 people being evacuated from the guesthouse in an upmarket residential area of Kabul, many looking frightened and shocked. “The fight is over. The five attackers are dead,” Qadam Shah Shaheem, commander of 111 Military Corps Kabul, told Reuters. “One detonated his car loaded with explosives, three others detonated explosives attached to their bodies inside the building, and one was shot by security forces. All four foreigners are alive and safe now.”

Kabul is already on high alert and people across the country are on edge ahead of an April 5 vote the hardline Islamist movement denounces as a western-backed sham. The siege of the walled compound, which is also home to a small church, lasted several hours before Afghan security forces killed the last remaining Taliban gunman holed up inside.

The country manager of an organisation using the guesthouse said four persons had been held hostage by the Taliban. “I can confirm it was attacked and that there are only four people (inside),” said Hajji Mohammad Sharif Osmani, country manager of Roots of Peace, a US-based group involved in demining and other projects in Afghanistan.

 
 
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