KABUL: Simultaneous Taliban strikes on government buildings in Kabul took a lead from the Mumbai attacks in a show of sophistication that underscores the connections between international terrorists, analysts said yesterday.
The three attacks on Wednesday, the main one on the Ministry of Justice in the heart of the city, also highlight challenges facing any new US strategy in the region seven years after it declared a "war on terror."
Five gunmen who stormed the justice building - opening fire as they ran through corridors, kicking down doors to shoot people inside - appeared young, urban and well-trained as were the Mumbai attackers. Just minutes before, three suicide bombers blew themselves up at the prisons directorate and the education ministry - another similarity with the November attacks on three locations in India.
But the group did substantial damage, killing 26 Afghans and reinforcing fears about the future of a country that has been unable to stop the bloodshed even with the help of some of the world's largest militaries.
Meanwhile, Afghan intelligence agents said yesterday they are investigating links between Pakistan and Taliban militants in the Kabul attacks.
"As they were entering the Ministry of Justice before starting their indiscriminate killing of the civilians, they sent three messages to Pakistan calling for the blessing of their mastermind," Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh said.
A US defence official in Washington said the Kabul attacks may be a copycat of Mumbai but are not believed to have been carried out by militants involved in last year's attacks in India.
While the raids exposed gaps in security, Afghan officials praised security forces for acting quickly to kill the attackers and prevent them from creating even more havoc.