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Afghanistan To Review Security Plan For Kabul

A shopping center burns in central Kabul on January 18.
KABUL (Reuters) -- The Afghan government is to review its plan for securing Kabul a day after militants launched a series of commando-style attacks in the heart of the capital, the president's palace said today.

Taliban gunmen launched a brazen assault on January 18 in the center of the capital, with suicide bombers blowing themselves up at several locations and militants battling security forces from inside a shopping centre engulfed in flames.

It was the most high-profile attack inside the capital for almost a year and came as President Hamid Karzai was swearing in cabinet members at his palace only a few hundred meters away.

Karzai met the ministers of interior, defense, and national security today to discuss the raids.

"In this meeting...all parts of yesterday's events were studied and it was agreed that the plan for Kabul's security should be reviewed and submitted to the president for approval," Karzai's palace said in a statement.

The palace did not provide any more details.

While the raids were dramatic and well coordinated, casualty figures were relatively low.

The NATO-led force in Afghanistan said it had troops on the ground during yesterday's raids but that the Afghan army and police had been leading the operation against the insurgents.

Kabul's security was formally handed over to Afghans in August 2008 but many of the international forces have bases inside the city where they conduct frequent patrols. The NATO-led headquarters is also located in the capital.

There are more than 110,000 foreign troops, including some 70,000 Americans, fighting a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan and Washington is sending 30,000 more to try and quell the violence. Other countries are sending some 7,000 more.

But Washington has said it will begin to start scaling back troop numbers in 18 months and that it does not want to be in Afghanistan in another eight or nine years time.

This has worried many Afghans who feel international troops are looking for a way out and that their own security forces will not be able to secure the country against the Taliban.

Western leaders have said any drawdown of troops will be conditions based and security will only be handed over to the Afghans on a province by province basis.