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Taliban strike at heart of Kabul

The Taliban have attacked the US Embassy, Nato headquarters and other buildings in the heart of Kabul while suicide bombers struck police buildings.

The onslaught underlined the ability of militants to bring their fight to the doorsteps of Western powers in Afghanistan.

The coordinated assaults carried an unsettling message to Western leaders and their Afghan allies about the resilience and reach of the Taliban network.

It was the third major attack in the Afghan capital since late June, casting fresh doubts on the ability of Afghans to secure their own country as foreign troops prepare to withdraw by the end of 2014.

The American Embassy and Nato both said no staff were wounded. At least one Afghan police officer, a civilian, and two insurgents had been killed as gunfire and explosions resounded across the city well into the afternoon.

The surge of violence was a stark reminder of the instability that continues to plague Afghanistan.

In Brussels, Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the "enemies of Afghanistan" were trying to disrupt the handing over of security responsibility to the Afghan army and police.

Plumes of smoke rose from the area near the embassy, and US Army helicopters buzzed overhead. The American Embassy is on the edge of the Wazir Akbar Khan area, which is home to a number of other foreign missions. Explosions shook much of the neighbourhood.

Meanwhile, gunmen fired from a nine-storey office building that is under construction at Abdul Haq square, which is about 300 yards from the US Embassy.

Kabul police said at least seven insurgents were involved in the attacks around the city. Four were involved in the attack from the building and three attempted to carry out suicide attacks. All three suicide attackers were killed by police

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