9 Dead After Afghan Attack on Police Facility

Police officials and witnesses said the youthful attackers ran through a crowded downtown market area and tried to enter the police facility. One was shot dead at the entrance gate, and the other two forced their way inside and opened fire. Of them, one was shot and killed and the second later blew himself up, ending the incident.

A spokesman for the Taliban insurgency sent text messages to some Afghan journalists during the gun battle, asserting responsibility for the attack. It was the first terrorist assault in downtown Kabul since April 18, when a lone suicide bomber in army dress penetrated the Ministry of Defense headquarters, killing two soldiers before being shot dead.

“I saw three boys run toward the police station wearing army uniforms. One ran past and the others shouted, ‘Come back, this is the place,’ ” said Omid Ziai, 18, a shopkeeper selling sheets and towels on the next block. “One of them was shot right away, but the others went inside, and there was furious fire for a long time.”

Deputy city police chief Daoud Amin said the attackers who entered the police facility managed to kill two officers and four civilians who were visiting the office. None of the civilians was immediately identified, but another police official said at least one may have been a foreigner.

Other witnesses, including a guard at a nearby bank, described hearing or seeing a rocket land in the immediate area just before the attack, causing a huge explosion and setting numerous shops on fire. The area, one of the busiest shopping centers in the capital, was quickly deserted, with abandoned merchandise scattered across the sidewalks.

The body of one assailant lay outside the police building for several hours amid the noise of the gun battle and the chaos of police and emergency vehicles. A second was brought out later, and both were put in ambulances. Both appeared to be men in their late teens or early 20s, who were wearing camouflage uniforms on top of traditional Muslim robes.

Hamdard is a special correspondent. Special correspondent Sayed Salahuddin contributed to this report. Washington Post