An Afghan security officer tries to keep photographers back from the scene outside the Park Residence guesthouse, the site of a gun battle in the Shar-e Naw area in the heart of the capital Kabul on February 26, 2010. A suicide bomber set off a huge explosion near an upmarket shopping and hotel complex early in the morning, and police shot dead two other would-be attackers, officials said. (Photo by Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

Scene of destruction. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

By Mark Memmott

The attacks in Kabul early today that we reported about earlier left at least 17 people dead, the Associated Press now reports.

Suicide bombers struck at hotels in a part of the city that's popular with Indian embassy workers and other foreigners. Gun battles also broke out. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, reporting from Kabul, said on Morning Edition that the Taliban (which has claimed responsibility) may be trying to show it is "alive and functioning" even though many of its top leaders have been killed or captured in recent weeks and even though its fighters have been mostly pushed out of the key southern Afghan crossroads community of Marjah. Here's Soraya's conversation with ME host Steve Inskeep:

The BBC reports that "four Indians, a Frenchman, an Italian and two policemen were among the dead."

Reuters, which puts the death toll at 16 at this time, writes that "Taliban fighters opened fire, hurled grenades and staged suicide bombings in central Kabul. ... Among the dead were eight Afghans, including three police officers." It says 38 people were wounded "in the two-hour assault."

The most recent similar attacks in Kabul were on Jan. 18, when 12 people were killed in coordinated Taliban attacks on government buildings and shopping malls.

categories: Afghanistan

7:10 - February 26, 2010