KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan security forces killed at least eight insurgents during an early morning raid in Kabul on Thursday, with authorities saying they had thwarted a Taliban mass attack on the capital after a seven-hour gun battle.
Soldiers from Afghanistan's intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), launched the raid in darkness, entering a building about an hour after midnight in Kabul's Pul-e Charkhi district which the insurgents were using as a base.
"We have already killed eight insurgents and also seized explosives. They aimed to enter a building in Kabul and launch a combined attack on security forces, government offices or offices belonging to foreigners," an NDS spokesman told Reuters.
The Taliban issued a statement denying that Thursday's operation was against their fighters, although the insurgents often play down their defeats and inflate successes.
Taliban militants launched a big attack in central Kabul on April 15, occupying a high-rise construction site and pounding the city's diplomatic and business centre with rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire until they were killed.
On June 22, Afghan security forces fought a day-long battle with militants after a Taliban attack on a lakeside hotel on the outskirts of Kabul.
But security forces and NATO-led foreign troops say the sporadic attacks do not point to weaknesses in Afghan forces and intelligence ahead of a withdrawal by most foreign combat troops to be completed by 2014.
(Reporting by Mirwais Harooni; Writing by Rob Taylor; Editing by Robert Birsel)