KABUL: Explosions and gunfire rang out as the Taliban attacked Kabul airport on Thursday in the militants’ latest attempt to steal the initiative with the country in the grip of a presidential power struggle. The overnight attack on an airport outbuilding, which ended after four assailants were killed by security forces or blew themselves up, came ahead of an audit of ballot papers from last month’s presidential run-off election. Some 23,000 ballot boxes are being transported by the Afghan army and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces to the capital, where they will be examined at 100 verification stations in a process designed to resolve a political crisis that has threatened to widen Afghanistan’s dangerous ethnic fissures. NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)—whose main Kabul compound lies next to the civilian airport—is providing air transport for some 40 percent of the votes as it winds down its deployment after more than a decade of war.



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