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    A brazen, 18-hour Taliban attack on the Afghan capital ended early Monday when insurgents who had holed up overnight in two buildings were overcome by heavy gunfire from Afghan-led forces and pre-dawn air assaults from US-led coalition helicopters.

    Kabul residents awoke Monday to a second day of loud explosions and the crackle of gunfire. As darkness turned to dawn, Afghan-led forces fired one rocket-propelled grenade after another into a building in the center of the city where insurgents began their attack Sunday.

    Fighting there and at the Afghan parliament building on the southwest side of the city ended just before 8 am.

    Authorities said one police officer and at least 17 militants were killed in the multi-pronged attacks in Kabul and three eastern cities. The violence showed the Taliban and their allies are far from beaten and underscored the security challenge facing government forces as US and NATO forces draw down. The majority of international combat troops are scheduled to leave by the end of 2014.

    The Taliban began their near-simultaneous assaults on embassies, government buildings and NATO bases at 1.30 pm on Sunday, saying it was their response to NATO officials' recent claims that the insurgency was weak.
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