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Insurgents launch four-hour attack on Kabul airport

The seven insurgents were holed up with an arsenal of weapons and explosives, which they intended to use to target NATO and Afghan airport bases. Afghan forces killed all insurgents in the hideout. NBC's Duncan Golestani reports.

Insurgents attacked Kabul International Airport early Monday and battled Afghan security forces for four hours, officials said.

The assault occurred on the military side of the airport and included large explosions and machine-gun fire.

The attackers took up positions inside a partially constructed building next to airport, interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said, and fought Afghan security forces for about four hours before the raid ended.

Speaking to The Associated Press, Sediqi said that two civilians were wounded in Monday's attack that was apparently targeting NATO's airport headquarters.

Kabul police said that they estimated as many as 10 suicide attackers were involved. Several of the fighters were reportedly captured.

A Taliban spokesman told NBC News it was behind the raid and that the main targets were Americans.

Afghan National Army forces were resisting the attack, which began before 5 a.m. local time, or 8:30 p.m. Sunday ET.

Capt. Luca Carniel of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force told NBC News that the force was aware of the attack at the airport and that the military was assessing the situation.

The airport is used by both civilians and the military. On the military side, the NATO command headquarters runs day-to-day operations in the Afghan war. Most foreign combat troops are to be out of the country by the end of 2014, leaving Afghan forces to cope with insurgents.

Anja Niedringhaus / AP

More than ten years after the beginning of the war, Afghanistan faces external pressure to reform as well as ongoing internal conflicts.

Airport sources told NBC News that all takeoffs and landings there had been suspended.

People living nearby told The Associated Press that they heard what sounded like a dozen explosions coming from the airport. They said that the explosions sounded like rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons fire.

Embassies in the diplomatic zone in Kabul were locked down, and emergency alarms rang at the British Embassy, Reuters reported.

Reuters, The Associated Press and NBC News' Sohel Uddin and Akbar Shinwari contributed to this report

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