KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan security forces overcame Taliban insurgents attacking a guest house for international aid workers in Afghanistan’s capital on Saturday and were still fighting gunmen inside former U.S. and British base Camp Bastion.
Foreign troops left the camp in the south of Afghanistan just a few weeks ago.
Taliban attacks are intensifying as the U.S.-led coalition prepares to withdraw most of its soldiers by the end of 2014.
At least two civilians were killed in the second attack in three days on expatriate aid workers’ housing in Kabul. One Taliban fighter was killed when his suicide vest exploded and the other two attackers were shot, Qadam Shah Shaheem, commander of the Afghan army’s 111 Military Corps Kabul, said.
Eight people, including two foreigners, were rescued from the building in Kabul’s western Karte Seh district during the four-hour gunbattle.
Two bodies were found on the lower floors, but their identities were not known, Shaheem said.
Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai said in a statement that one was Afghan and one was a foreigner, but he did not give the nationality.
The Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility, with a spokesman saying in a statement that their fighters had targeted a Christian organization seeking to convert Muslims. Authorities did not know the name of the aid organization.
On Thursday, Taliban gunmen had stormed a guest house in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter. Only the attackers were killed.
In southern Afghanistan, soldiers were still fighting Taliban gunmen inside Camp Bastion, a major southern base handed over to Afghans by the British and U.S. militaries in October.
A few dozen Taliban fighters with automatic weapons and suicide vests had attacked the base in Helmand province on Thursday, General Ayatullah Khan, commander of the army regiment in the area, said.
“Some managed to get inside, took position, and started the gunfight,” he said, noting that the insurgents appeared to be holed up in one of the smaller camps within Camp Bastion.
At least five soldiers and 26 insurgents were killed on Friday at the base, Omar Zwak, a spokesman for Helmand’s governor, said.
The Taliban, who were ousted from power by the U.S.-led coalition in 2001, claimed that hundreds had been killed in the attack. The insurgents routinely inflate casualty figures.
Additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi; Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Louise Ireland