Photo by Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images.
UPDATE: An 18-hour, multipronged Taliban attack on the Afghan capital came to an end Monday morning after Afghan-led ground forces and a U.S.-led helicopter strike overcame insurgents who had holed up overnight in the center of the city.
The Associated Press with the analysis: "The violence showed the Taliban and their allies are far from beaten and underscored the security challenge facing government forces as U.S. and NATO forces draw down."
The Los Angeles Times reports that at least 36 insurgents were killed, with over a dozen more injured or captured, during the lengthy battle between the insurgents and government police, according to Afghan officials. One of the arrested militants has reportedly confessed that the attacks were orchestrated by the Haqqani network, a group linked to al-Qaida and the Taliban.
The Haqqani network, operated by a man of the same name and his son primarily on the eastern border with Pakistan, has been described as a "family clan, a criminal patronage network and a terrorist organization" by NATO.
The AP with more:
Afghan and U.S. officials are trying to coax the Taliban—who are not as closely linked with [al-Qaida] as the Haqqanis—to negotiate a political resolution to the war. If the Haqqani faction of the insurgency is behind the recent attacks, it could be easier to sell the idea of making peace with the Taliban to skeptics who say it amounts to making a deal with the enemy.
Sunday, April 15: Taliban militants launched a series of spectacularly well-coordinated attacks on as many as seven sites across the Afghan capital of Kabul and at least three other cities Sunday, reports the Associated Press.
Teams of insurgents that included suicide bombers and gunmen targeted government buildings, as well as the U.S., German, and Russian embassies in Kabul, reports CNN. Three hours after the attacks began, gunfire could still be heard in Kabul, notes the Washington Post. Initial reports state that seven militants have been killed and at least 24 people were injured, writes the BBC.
The Taliban issued a statement saying the attacks marked the beginning of its “spring offensive,” and should be seen as a message to foreign leaders who have said the insurgents have lost power, reports the New York Times. “We have just showed that we are here and we can stage an attack whenever we want,” read the statement. Initial intelligence on the attacks seems to point to the Haqqani network, which is allied to the Taliban, writes Reuters.
Sunday's attacks mark the worst violence to hit Kabul since September, when militants targeted the U.S. Embassy. The Guardian calls Sunday’s violence, the insurgency’s “largest coordinated attack” since the war began. The BBC’s Bilal Sarwary notes the insurgents have once again “shattered the confidence of Afghans” by showing they have the ability to target the heavily guarded center of Kabul despite a war that has lasted more than a decade.