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Terror group 'admit Afghan attacks'

A militant arrested over the attacks on Kabul and three other Afghan cities has confessed that the 18-hour assault was carried out by the Haqqani network, a lethal group of fighters with ties to the Taliban and al Qaida, a top security official said.

Interior minister Besmillah Mohammadi revealed that 36 insurgents were killed during the attacks, which also claimed the lives of eight policemen and three civilians. He said a total of 40 policeman and 25 civilians were also wounded in the attacks.

It was the most widespread attack in the Afghan capital since an assault on the US Embassy and Nato headquarters last September - an assault also blamed on the Haqqani network, which is based in Pakistan and commands the loyalties of an estimated 10,000 fighters.

The violence showed that the Taliban and their allies are far from beaten and underlined the security challenge facing government forces as most of the US and Nato forces prepare to leave by the end 2014.

The attacks on the Afghan capital ended on Monday when insurgents, who had holed up in two buildings overnight, were overcome by heavy gunfire from Afghan-led forces and pre-dawn air assaults from US-led coalition helicopters.

The building, which is under construction, overlooks the presidential palace, Western embassies and government ministries.

"The terrorists tried to harm the process of transferring security to the Afghan forces, but they are not able to do it," Mr Mohammadi said. "They want to create fear among the people."

He added: "One terrorist who was arrested in Nangarhar province confessed, saying 'It was the Haqqani network that launched these attacks'."

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said dozens of suicide attackers and gunmen were involved in attacks that had been planned for two months to show the insurgency's power after Nato officials called the Taliban weak and said there was no indication they were planning a spring offensive.

Mujahid said that the attacks did not mark the start of the insurgents' spring offensive, which would begin shortly, saying: "It is a message for the spring offensive but it has not yet started."

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