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Nine dead in raid on Kabul British Council

Taliban claim independence day storming of cultural centre.

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(Antler)

Nine people were killed Friday morning after gunmen stormed the British Council in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Following a shoot-out with Afghan and British troops that lasted seven hours, the British Foreign Ministry confirmed that the gunmen had all been killed.

The attack, claimed by the Taliban, comes as Afghanistan marks its independence from Britain in 1919.

Media reports said a suicide car bomb was detonated outside the British Council, destroying the compound wall, before half a dozen heavily armed men forced their way inside.

Authorities said among those killed were at least eight Afghan policemen and a foreign security official, possibly a member of the New Zealand special forces.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the British citizens inside the compound were "shaken but well" after being moved to safety.

The British Council said that two British female teachers were among four residents who took refuge in a reinforced safe room during the attack.

Al Jazeera's correspondent in Kabul said the Taliban fighters had been "extremely well armed" and prepared for a long battle with the police.

The BBC said that British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the attack as "cowardly”. He thanked New Zealand Prime Minister John Key for his country's work in defending the compound.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/110819/kabul-british-council-attack