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TERRORISM

Two Spanish police officers killed in Taliban attack in Kabul

PM Rajoy says Spain’s embassy in Afghan capital was not target of terrorist operation

Two Afghan soldiers arrive at the scene of the attack in Kabul.
Two Afghan soldiers arrive at the scene of the attack in Kabul. EFE

Two Spanish police officers have died in a Taliban suicide attack that took place next to Spain’s Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday.

The officers have been named by the Interior Ministry as 48-year-old Isidro Gabino Sanmartín Hernández, a member of the UIP police intervention unit based in Oviedo, Asturias, and deputy inspector Jorge García Tudela, who was 45 and from Granada.

All embassy staff in the Afghan capital, including the National Police officers responsible for security, have been evacuated following an operation that lasted several hours.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack and said that a guest house was the target

At least 10 people, including the two Spaniards and four Afghan officers, died and nine others were injured in the attack, which was ended by security forces after a 12-hour confrontation.

Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told Spanish news agency Efe in Kabul that three of the attackers had been shot down and a fourth had died in the car bomb explosion that began the operation.

Speaking from an election rally in Alicante on Friday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that Spain’s embassy had not been the target of the attack, as had initially been thought.

The Spanish Foreign Ministry had stated on Friday afternoon that the embassy was suffering an attack by members of the Taliban. However, the target was in fact a nearby guest house.

The attack began at around 6pm local time (2.30pm in Spain) in the Shirpur area of the city, where many embassies and government buildings are situated. “After an explosion in a car, some terrorists entered a guest house close to the Spanish Embassy,” said the Afghan Interior Ministry’s emergencies chief, Homayoon Aini, after news of the incident broke. “Special forces have arrived at the scene and the area has been cordoned off.”

Footage recorded by Afghan channel 1TV Kabul.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for what it says was a suicide attack aimed at a guest house next to the Spanish Embassy. “The war continues at a good pace,” said spokesman Zahibulá Muyahid via Twitter.

Spain maintains a contingent of 21 military personnel in the Afghan capital under NATO’s Resolute Support mission, mostly providing advice to the country’s army.

Spain’s armed forces have formed part of the NATO operations in Afghanistan since 2002. One hundred members of the Spanish military and two interpreters working for them have died there since then.

English version by Nick Funnell.

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