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Militants In Kabul Standoff Killed

Afghan security officials arrive at the scene of the attack by Taliban militants.
Afghan security officials arrive at the scene of the attack by Taliban militants.
Afghan police have killed all five Taliban militants who had attacked the heavily fortified headquarters of Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Kabul with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns.

The gunmen broke into a nearby building on March 29, disguised as women, and fired at the compound hosting the election commission.

Occupants of the besieged building took shelter in safe areas of the IEC headquarters as security forces battled the militants for several hours.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said the standoff ended with the killing of all five Taliban fighters. He said two police officers were also injured.

Hours after the attack, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed by phone the recent spike in violence in Kabul, as well as Afghan efforts to engage the Taliban in peace talks, according to a statement from the Afghan presidential office.

Earlier, Kabul police chief General Muhammad Zahir spoke to RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan about the situation: "A group of terrorists entered a building, which is 800 meters away from the Independent Election Commission, the fighting is still going on. Kabul police Crisis Rescue Unit is leading the operation and, God willing, very soon we will deflect the danger."

The IEC compound is on the edge of the Kabul airport, which reportedly closed its runway because of possible dangers to planes.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes a week before the presidential election and after a series of deadly attacks in the capital.

OnMarch 28, a Taliban attack on a guest house killed two bystanders and wounded four guards. All five attackers were reported killed.

The building houses a USAID-funded nongovernmental organization.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP