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Page last updated at 14:03 GMT, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 15:03 UK

Rocket attack on Afghan capital

Aftermath of rocket attack in Kabul

Suspected Taliban militants have fired a series of rockets into the Afghan capital, Kabul, as security fears mount ahead of elections due this month.

Police say nine rockets fell on the city. Two people were injured but there were no deaths.

Elsewhere a suicide bomber killed five people and a provincial governor escaped an apparent assassination bid.

Insurgent attacks have increased in the run-up to presidential and provincial elections due on 20 August.

A bomb attack in the western city of Herat on Monday killed at least 12 people and injured more than 20.

'Very loud'

The rocket attacks on Kabul began in the early hours of the morning.

A house damaged by a rocket attack in Kabul on 4 August 2009
Attacks have increased in the run-up to the presidential election

The BBC's David Loyn in Kabul says the rockets fell across the city, suggesting this may have been a co-ordinated attack from more than one firing position.

Afghan intelligence sources say the main firing point was to the north of the city.

Most of the missiles fell onto empty ground, but one exploded near a senior Afghan general's house in the diplomatic area, close to the US and British embassies, as well as to Nato headquarters.

The explosions were followed by several bursts of rifle fire in the centre of the city.

"It was very loud, just as we were praying," said Kabul resident Ismail Khan.

Another eyewitness Abdul Wali Zai said since the attacks took place early in the morning when the streets were empty, there had been no casualties.

Our correspondent says Kabul residents will have been reminded of the civil war of the early 1990s, when much of the south of the city was reduced to rubble and tens of thousands of people were killed in continuing salvoes of indiscriminate rocket fire.

Until now the Taliban have not been able to mount sustained attacks of this sort since they fell in 2001.

The latest attack shows both their increased strength and their capacity to change their tactics to put pressure on international forces in the run-up to the vote, our correspondent says.

'Sabotage'

Kabul's deputy police chief, Mohammad Khalil Dastyar, blamed Taliban fighters.

"They're just trying to sabotage and create tension in Kabul," he told the Associated Press news agency.

The Kabul attacks come a day after the attack in Herat targeted a police convoy, killing and wounding both police and civilians.

On Tuesday, police in Zabul province said a suicide attacker walked up to an intelligence agency vehicle in a busy market and blew himself up.

An intelligence official and four civilians were killed, police said.

Separately, the Interior Ministry said the governor of Wardak province survived unharmed an apparent assassination attempt just outside Kabul.

Last week the Taliban explicitly threatened to disrupt the elections.

Tens of thousands of foreign and Afghan forces have been deployed to try to ensure security for the vote.



FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
The Independent Taliban rockets shatter fragile peace in Kabul - 37 hrs ago
France24 AFGHANISTAN: Suicide attack sends chilling message as election nears - 44 hrs ago
Yahoo! News Taliban rockets land near embassies in Afghan capital (Reuters) - 46 hrs ago



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