Taliban steps up attacks inside Kabul

Taliban fighters used a car bomb, two suicide bombers, rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire in an attempt to overrun the police compound, Interior Ministry officials told United Press International. 

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Afghan National Security Forces, backed by Norwegian special operations troops, battled back against the insurgents, exchanging gunfire from nearby buildings and rooftops adjacent to the police headquarters and the Afghan parliament building. 

Taliban spokesman, who claimed credit for Monday's failed attack, said their fighters had killed 24 Afghan soldiers and police and wounded 31 during the gun battle. 

The attack comes less than a week after Taliban suicide bombers struck the headquarters of Afghanistan's intelligence directorate in Kabul, killing one and injuring dozens in the daring daytime attack. 

A minivan laden with high explosives detonated outside the main gates of the government compound housing the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) and other ministerial officers last Wednesday. 

Shortly after the initial bombing, several Taliban fighters armed with suicide vests pulled up to the blast site in an attempt to storm the compound and inflict further damage to NDS headquarters. 

Afghan security forces killed the would-be bombers before they could breach the compound's perimeter, and were able to defuse a second bomb discovered in the gunmen's van, according to news reports. 

The attacks come as Afghan President Hamid Karzai is working on a plan with Washington and regional allies such as Pakistan to begin peace talks with the Taliban. 

Karzai reaffirmed those efforts during one-on-one talks with President Obama earlier this month. Those talks centered around a multiphased, Afghan-led approach to getting the Taliban to the negotiation table. 

The Afghan-led peace talks with the Taliban, as part of an overarching peace plan, "is absolutely essential to bringing the war to a responsible close," Doug Lute, the administration's top adviser for South Asia, told reporters earlier this month. 

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