Twin explosions rock British compound in Kabul

Afghan policemen secure the area near a road block formed by security forces on the road leading to the site of an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 19, 2011. Twin explosions have rocked the residential area on the west end of the Afghan capital, Kabul.
AP Photo/Dar Yasin

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A police official and eyewitnesses say the death toll from twin suicide attacks on a British compound in Kabul and an ensuing gun battle between insurgents and security troops has climbed to at least 10.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi says at least two policemen were also wounded in the attack.

Sediqqi says one suicide bomber first detonated a car laden with explosives outside the British Council in the western part of Kabul on Friday morning.

A second bomber penetrated inside the complex and set off an explosives vest.

The blasts set off a five-hour-long gun battle between Afghan security forces and an unknown number of insurgents inside the compound.

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A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The twin blasts occurred in the early hours of Afghan Independence Day, marking Afghanistan's full independence from Britain in 1919. It was unclear whether the attack was related to the anniversary.

The explosions shattered glass windows a third of a mile from the site.

Afghan troops at the scene around the British Council early Friday morning were making preparations to assault the compound. NATO troops were also there in an advisory role.

The walled compound of the British Council is located in an upscale residential area in west Kabul. It consists of two buildings, one is a two-story building and the is other a single-story structure. The Council focuses on aiding foreign nations with education and building civil society.

Friday's fighting damaged two neighboring high schools and several auto repair and auto parts shops nearby.

While violence continues to rage in many parts of Afghanistan, attacks in the capital are relatively uncommon. In June, 21 people were killed at a Kabul hotel, including nine insurgents, with militants fighting NATO and Afghan troops for five hours with rocket-propelled grenades and suicide bombs.