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In a brazen demonstration of its ability to hit some of the best defended targets in Kabul, the Taliban mounted its largest ever co-ordinated attack in 11 years of resistance to Afghanistan's post-2001 rulers.
Dozens of fighters launched gun, rocket and suicide attacks on embassies, Nato bases, parliament and government buildings in the capital, as well as Nato targets in three eastern provinces, in what a spokesman called a "spring offensive" to demonstrate its strength. Five hours later, as dusk fell, gun battles were still raging in Kabul. The British embassy was among the targets, but insurgents succeeded only in damaging a gate.
This time the scale of the attack in the capital alone was even greater. At least seven sites across the heavily guarded city were targeted, raising worrying questions about the organisation's continued potency despite intense US efforts to degrade them on the battlefield.
Nato forces quickly dismissed the attacks as "largely ineffective" and emphasised that it was Afghan army forces, not Nato units, that dealt with the onslaught. Afghan units had sustained "light casualties while killing or capturing many of the suicide attackers in a matter of hours." Witnesses reported seeing some bodies in the street, but there was no official word on any deaths. The Taliban said that the attacks, which were two months in the planning, served to show the insurgency "can attack anywhere we want". The attacks resembled an audacious assault in September when gunmen stormed an abandoned, half-built tower from where they fired rockets at the US embassy, prompting a 20-hour siege by Afghan special forces.