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Security High In Kabul After Wave Of Taliban Attacks

Afghan policemen in front of the Kabul shopping mall where Taliban gunmen battled security forces for hours on January 18.
Security forces are reported on high alert in Kabul, one day after Taliban militants launched a wave of gun and suicide bombing attacks in the heart of the Afghan capital.

The fighting near the presidential palace, other government buildings and a luxury hotel on January 18 left at least 12 people dead -- including members of the security forces and seven attackers. More than 70 others were wounded.

Afghan forces along with NATO advisers managed to restore order after nearly five hours of battles, and President Hamid Karzai later declared the situation "under control."

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen commended Afghan forces for the role in defending Kabul, saying the attackers were trying to reverse the progress Afghans are making to build a better future.

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters on his way to India, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he doubted that Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar would ever choose to make peace with the Afghan government.

compiled from agency reports