At least 25 killed in assault on Afghan government building

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Flames rise from a government building after an explosion and attack by gunmen, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Dec. 24, 2018.

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KABUL, Afghanistan — At least 25 people were killed Monday during a a seven-hour assault that began with a car bomb at a government building in the Afghan capital, authorities said.

A police officer and four attackers were among the dead after the standoff at the National Authority for Disabled People and Martyrs’ Families in Kabul, according to Najib Danish, an Interior Ministry spokesman.

The attack began Monday afternoon with the detonation of a vehicle bomb at the gates to the building, Danish said. Three gunmen then stormed the building, where hundreds were working.

More than 20 people, including two police officers, were wounded, the official said. At least 350 workers were evacuated and the number of casualties could rise, according to Danish.

Local authorities had earlier said the gunmen took hostages in the building.

The attack comes at a time when the US military has been ordered to begin planning to withdraw about half the troops in Afghanistan, as a US defense official with direct knowledge of the matter told CNN last week.

The official said planning is underway, and it could take months to withdraw the nearly 7,000 troops.

Gen. John Allen, a former commander of NATO and US forces in Afghanistan, said Thursday that a drawdown in Afghanistan would be a mistake.

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