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Four killed in Taliban hotel blast

Four guards have been killed after a suicide bomber blew up his car outside a small residential hotel used by foreigners in northern Afghanistan.

At the same time, two other militants stormed the hotel in Kunduz city and engaged Afghan police officers in a two-hour gun battle.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault - the latest in a rising number of attacks in the area.

The blast rocked the neighbourhood all around the building in Kunduz city, said provincial spokesman Mubobullah Sayedi.

"When the bomber blew himself up, the explosion shook everything," he said. "It broke glass everywhere."

Four Afghan building guards were killed and 10 other people, including an Afghan policeman, were wounded, said Mr Sayedi. Foreigners staying at the two-storey hotel escaped through the rear of the building.

Sarwar Husseini, a provincial police spokesman, said German aid workers often stay in the house but it is not clear who was staying there when the attack took place.

The interior ministry said the house was used by GIZ, a German development and assistance organisation which contracts mostly with the German government.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a text message to the Associated Press that the assailants had attacked a "German intelligence centre and security company".

Fighting in Afghanistan has mainly been focused on the south and east, but insurgents have been conducting a rising number of attacks in the once-peaceful north. Late last month, a vehicle carrying the deputy governor of Kunduz province struck a roadside bomb, injuring three of his bodyguards, and in June, a bombing at a bazaar in the province killed at least 10 people.

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