KABUL — An attack by Taliban suicide bombers killed three police officers in the Afghan capital Monday and signaled that insurgents are determined to keep fighting despite overtures of peace from the United States and the Afghan government.
The nine-hour assault on the traffic police headquarters, which sent heavy black smoke over Kabul, was the second such attack in the heart of the snow-covered capital in six days.
It came a week after the Afghan and American presidents agreed that the Taliban should open a political office in the gulf state of Qatar to facilitate possible reconciliation with the hard-line Islamic group. And it occurred just days after Pakistan announced it would release more Taliban detainees to help jump-start the fragile peace process.
The predawn attack began with two Taliban suicide bombers blowing themselves up at the gates of the police headquarters. Three heavily armed militants, also wearing explosive vests, then stormed the compound, authorities said.
About 90 minutes later, a car packed with explosives blew up near the gate. Such secondary explosive devices often are rigged to timers and designed to kill people responding to the attack.
The three militants who entered the compound battled Afghan security forces for nine hours. Three police officers were killed, said Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi. Four traffic policemen and 10 civilians were wounded, he said.
General Mohammad Ayub Salangi, Kabul’s police chief, said two suicide bombers died at the gate when they detonated their explosive vests, another blew himself up inside the building, and two more were shot and killed by security forces before they managed to detonate their suicide vests.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, which he said targeted a police training facility ‘‘run by foreign military forces.’’
The traffic police headquarters is not heavily guarded, though it is located on a square leading to the Parliament and close to a zoo.
It also is adjacent to the Afghan Border Police headquarters and a police training facility — possibly the insurgents’ primary target.
The traffic police facility, usually teeming with civilians seeking driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations, was nearly empty when the attack began before the morning rush hour. The Interior Ministry said many of the civilians were injured by the powerful car bomb. Some were in their homes and hit by glass.