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Terrorism

Taliban storms UN building in Kabul, battles police for several hours

Security forces have ended a fire-fight against Taliban militants in downtown Kabul. Gunmen stormed a UN-affiliated office where they exchanged fire with police for several hours following a suicide car bombing,

At least four gunmen were killed in a stand-off on Friday that took place in the office for the International Organization of Migration (IOM). Officials confirmed that at least three of its employees had suffered injuries in the battle, which raged on for roughly five hours.

"Three IOM staff members were injured, one seriously. A staff member from the International Labour Organization was also injured. All are now receiving medical attention," the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, Jan Kubis, said

"All United Nations staff members in the capital have been accounted for," Kubis said.

The IOM spokesperson in Geneva, Chris Lom, confirmed that a female Italian official suffered serious injuries during a grenade attack.

It was not immediately clear whether the security forces involved in the fire-fight had suffered any casualties.

The Geneva-based organization works internationally in cooperation with the UN to assist governments in promoting humane migration policies and practices.

Second bombing in Kabul in over a week

The attack began when a suicide attacker detonated a car bomb near aid agencies on Friday around 4 p.m., sending a large plume of black smoke over downtown Kabul. Gun fire followed the explosion.

Gunmen then stormed the IOM building nearby and engaged security forces in a battle for several hours, interspersed by explosions.

The Taliban said the bomb served to open the way to the building.

"A number of mujahedin attacked a refuge used by CIA officials in Kabul as well as a department of the Interior Ministry," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said.

Late last week, a suicide car bomb struck a foreign military convoy and killed 15 people, the deadliest bombing in the Afghan capital in over a year.

kms/ccp (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)