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11 die in Kabul attack after Obama trip (Third Lead)

Afghanistan,Indo-Pak/Pakistan,Terrorism, Wed, 02 May 2012 IANS

Kabul, May 2 (IANS) Taliban militants carried out an audacious attack in Kabul only hours after US President Barack Obama visited the city, leaving 11 people including all five attackers dead.


A tense calm prevailed in the Afghan capital as authorities the end of the deadly Taliban strike, on the first anniversary of the killing of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.


The attack was mounted after Obama left Kabul following a previously unannounced visit. The quick trip saw him signing a strategic partnership agreement with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai, media reports said.


Taliban militants resorted to suicide bombings and fought a pitched battle with security forces Wednesday morning.


The deadly attack ended after all the attackers were killed inside a residential compound used by foreign staff of international organisations, Xinhua reported.


"Afghan Security Forces led a capable and quick response in containing and then killing all attackers," said the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.


Afghanistan had been anxious ahead of May 2, the day Osama was fatally shot by US commandos in Pakistan's Abbottabad town. The Taliban had sheltered Osama when the Al Qaeda carried out 9/11, provoking the US to attack Afghanistan and topple the Pakistan-backed Taliban regime.


Kabul woke up Wednesday to gunfire and explosions.


The attack began at 6.15 with a suicide car bomber targeting the entrance of Green Village residential compound in Pul-i-Charkhi area, enabling other heavily-armed militants to enter it, a police officer told Xinhua.


Two deafening blasts took place inside the fortified complex and then an intense gunfight broke out.


Pul-i-Charkhi is located on Jalalabad road, the main road leading out of the capital to the east to the border with Pakistan. Several US and NATO military camps are located nearby.


Kabul police officials put the death toll at 11, including five attackers. The identity of the others are not known although one is said to be a security guard from Nepal.


This is the second coordinated attack in Afghanistan in two weeks.


A total of 51 people, including 36 attackers, were killed and 74 injured when the Taliban launched a major attack in Kabul and three other eastern cities April 15.


India said there were no Indian casualties in Wednesday's attack.


"No reports of any Indians amongst casualties in Kabul," external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted.


Obama reached Kabul overnight Tuesday.


"Afghanistan has a friend and a partner in the US," he said before signing the Strategic Partnership Agreement outlining cooperation between their countries once the US-led forces withdraw in 2014, CNN reported.


Obama, on his third trip to Afghanistan since taking office, also addressed troops at Bagram Air Field.


During the signing ceremony, the US president said neither country asked for the war which began over a decade earlier, but now they would work in partnership for a peaceful future.


Obama said: "With this agreement, I am confident that the Afghan people will understand that the US will stand by them. We came here with a very clear mission to destroy Al Qaeda."


There are currently over 90,000 US troops in Afghanistan. The US is expected to draw down that number to 65,000 by the end of 2012 and to less than 20,000 by the end of 2014.


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