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Seven Taliban insurgents including suicide bombers attacked the main airport in the Afghan capital, Kabul, early on Monday, with explosions and gunfire heard near an area that also houses major foreign military bases.
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The attackers took up positions inside a partially constructed building next to the international airport, interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said, and fought Afghan security forces for about four hours before the raid ended.
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The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Roads were sealed off and flights out of the airport were quickly cancelled, while incoming flights were diverted to the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
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Attacks on the heavily guarded airport, used by civilians and the military, are relatively rare and represent an ambitious target for insurgents, with recent assaults staged against less well-protected targets.
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While it did not escalate dramatically, Monday's assault will add to mounting concerns over how the 352,000-strong Afghan security forces will cope with an intensifying insurgency once most foreign combat troops leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
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The airport is home to a major operational base for NATO-led forces that have been fighting Taliban and other insurgents for 12 years and is bristling with soldiers and police, guard towers and several lines of security checkpoints.
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The attack began at about 4.30 a.m. (2400 GMT), soon after morning prayers, and plumes of smoke were seen rising from behind razor-wire fences at the airport. The fighting ended about four hours later.