Page last updated at 11:41 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010

Afghans describe Taliban attacks in Kabul

A burning building in Kabul
Firefighters spray water at burning building in Kabul

Afghans tell the BBC what they saw of the Taliban attacks on landmarks in central Kabul.

Emal Masood, inside the ministry of finance, Kabul

I am on the fourth floor of the ministry of finance, next to the Ariana cinema and the ministry of justice.

Security people are firing at insurgents from our building. The battle is continuing, I can hear gunshots even though a security spokesman declared on television that the situation was under control.

I was at my desk, with my back to the window, when I heard the first big blast. Alarms went off and we were all told to stand in the corridors away from the windows.

We are not allowed to leave the building. Ambulances and fire engines are the only vehicles on the roads.

From our office we can see that the Feroshgah-e-Afghan shopping centre is completely burned.

One of my friends has a shop there. He told me two men entered - insurgents, yes - and were yelling at people to get out of the building. He said he left his shop open and ran away. Police were coming in as he ran out.

There goes another blast, that's an explosion, not gunfire.

Interviewed at 0945GMT (1415 local time).

Baba Jan, inside ministry of communication and IT, Kabul

The Feroshgah-e-Afghan shopping centre is right in front of us, about 150 metres away. Until about 10 minutes ago the fighting was intense.

We saw two injured civilians being brought out

With a group of colleagues, I was watching police firing on the building and saw it catch fire. Fire fighters didn't dare approach it at first the blaze was so big.

One of our colleague's relatives was hiding in the basement of the shopping centre, he was calling my colleague on his phone. When the fire died down he was finally allowed to leave.

We then saw two injured civilians being brought out from - I think - the Serena Hotel next to the shopping centre.

They were taken to security vehicles and driven away.

Now we can hear sporadic firing, and a few explosions a bit further away but it sounds like it's almost under control.

I have been in Kabul for nine years, but this is the first time I've witnessed something like this.

Interviewed at 0930 GMT (1400 local time)

Sulaiman Aslam, inside ministry of finance, Kabul

We are close to the battle. I was at my computer when I heard the first big blast, then we moved into a corridor with no windows.

Police are in my building firing at the cinema. There is firing back

We then heard another big blast, like a rocket launcher. Someone said our building was hit and I heard three or four of our staff were injured.

We've been hearing helicopters flying overhead and earlier saw the soldiers and police fighting the insurgents.

We don't have solid security measures within the ministry so if any of the insurgents found their way in here, I think we are gone.

I can't see them, but police in my building are firing at the cinema. There is firing back.

Interviewed at 0920 GMT (1350 local time)

Abdul, travel agent, Kabul

The travel agency where I work is about 1km (0.6 miles) from where the battle started. I was walking to work when I heard the huge explosion right in front of the shopping centre.

I am from a Taliban area but I've never been as close as this before

I wasn't sure if it was a bomb or a rocket, then hundreds of people started running out.

I gave a taxi driver $2 to drive me away as fast as he could. We are now in our travel agency, waiting for the police to clear the area.

We can hear a helicopter right above us. There are a lot of people still running away.

I've never seen anything as close as this before. I am from Khost, north of Kabul, it's a mostly Taliban area!

I have only been in Kabul two months but I will stay because of the good salary.

Interviewed at 0910 GMT (1340 local time)

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