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Families used as 'human shields' during fatal Taliban airport siege

At least 50 people, mainly civilians, were killed in the attack.

Afghan men pray for Mohammad Sami, a young man killed during clashes at the airport.
Afghan men pray for Mohammad Sami, a young man killed during clashes at the airport.
Image: Allauddin Khan/AP/Press Association Images

A 27-HOUR Taliban siege of an Afghan airport has killed at least 50 people, local officials have said.

Eleven suicide attackers entered the Kandahar airport on Tuesday, which also houses a joint NATO-Afghan base, taking families hostage and triggering pitched firefights with soldiers.

The raid, which saw militants blowing themselves up among civilians before the area was secured, is the most serious attack in 14 years of war on the complex, the largest military installation in the south of the country.

“50 of our innocent countrymen, including 10 soldiers, two policemen and 38 civilians, were martyred in the attack,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

It added that 37 people, including 17 army men, were wounded.

A group of 11 terrorists attacked a bazaar and a school in the airport complex, took up positions in the area and (some of them) detonated their suicide vests among civilians.

‘Human shields’

Witnesses said the militants had taken families hostage, using them as “human shields” and slowing down the military’s clearance operation.

Some 27 hours after the siege began, soldiers last night killed the last insurgent who was holed up inside a building and doggedly resisted security forces till the very end.

The Taliban posted a picture on their website of the militants it said were involved in the attack. It shows 10 young men sporting trimmed beards, Kalashnikovs and identical military uniforms.

The face of one of them is obscured with blue ink for unknown reasons.

- © AFP 2015

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