Afghan forces end standoff with gunmen near Indian consulate

KABUL - Afghan special forces have ended a standoff with gunmen holed up near the Indian Consulate in the country's north and have killed all the attackers after a 24-hour gunbattle, officials said Tuesday.

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The standoff began on Sunday night in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, when three gunmen tried to storm the consulate, and then retreated into an adjacent, four-story building. Later, Afghan troops rappelled from helicopters onto the roof of the building to drive out the gunmen.

Sarwar Hussaini, a police spokesman in northern Balkh province, said the standoff ended late Monday night. There were three gunmen and all were killed while 10 people were wounded during the clashes, including five civilians who got caught in the crossfire, he said.

No one has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, Saifudin Sahadat, a provincial high peace council chief, was shot and killed by a gunman on Monday night in northern Samangan province, said Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the interior minister. The gunman was arrested and would be soon handed over to the judiciary for prosecution, Sediqqi told reporters.

He also said the casualty toll from Monday evening's suicide car bombing near the Kabul International Airport has risen to two dead and 36 civilians wounded, including nine women. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.



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