Taliban militants in Afghanistan have carried out coordinated attacks in the capital, Kabul, and three eastern provinces as part of what they call their “spring offensive.”
The attacks targeted the parliament, NATO headquarters in Kabul and an area that includes the U.S., German and British embassies.
Suicide blasts in the capital were followed by intense gunfire and rocket attacks.
Dark smoke rose into the sky as Afghan troops rushed into the streets with weapons drawn. Residents took cover indoors and emergency alarms blared throughout the city.
Additionally, the Taliban attacked a Pakistani prison in Wazirstan, freeing hundreds of Islamist terrorists.
"But the very fact that the enemy chose these particular targets speaks volumes about where we are in this campaign and the degree to which we have advanced the very things the enemy fears the most -- a sovereign Afghanistan responsive to its people and an enduring commitment by the international community. Each attack was meant to send a message: that legitimate governance and Afghan sovereignty are in peril." General John Allen
Similar violence erupted in Jalalabad City in Nangahar province, Gardez in Patkia province and in Logar province.
After the initial attacks, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the assaults and warned that operations by suicide bombers were still underway.
The interior ministry department reported that 19 attackers were killed and that 14 police officers and 9 civilians were wounded. Western embassies said none of their staff members was hurt.
Government officials said three suspects have been detained.
Violence has continued in the country as coalition forces have begun withdrawing from Afghanistan and transferring security responsibility to their Afghan counterparts.
During an interview with CNN on Sunday, U.S. Ambassador to Kabul Ryan Crocker said Afghan security forces responded “very professionally” to the coordinated strikes. The envoy noted Afghan troops successfully captured and killed suspects while suffering relatively few casualties of their own.
The United States and Afghanistan are also pushing toward completion of a long-term strategic agreement defining the U.S. presence in Afghanistan once all foreign combat troops leave the country by 2014.
Afghan police say gunmen have launched multiple attacks in the capital and at least one other city in Afghanistan.
Original: Officials says a series of explosions and bursts of gunfire Sunday rocked the heavily guarded central diplomatic area and the neighborhood around parliament in Kabul.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks, saying suicide bombers have targeted NATO headquarters, diplomatic residences and parliament.
Witnesses say smoke can be seen billowing from buildings, and sirens can be heard throughout the area.
The Taliban says it has also launched an attack in the eastern city of Jalalabad.
There is no immediate word of casualties in any of the attacks. VoA.