A brazen, 18-hour Taliban attack on the Afghan capital ended when insurgents in two buildings were overcome by heavy gunfire from Afghan-led forces and pre-dawn air assaults from US-led coalition helicopters.
Kabul awoke to a second day of explosions and heavy gunfire as troops worked to defeat the militants who had taken up positions in the buildings.
As darkness turned to dawn, forces fired one rocket-propelled grenade after another into a building in the centre of the city where militants began their attack on Sunday in Kabul and three eastern cities.
Fighting there and at the Afghan parliament building on the south-west side of the city ended just before 8am local time. It was the Taliban's boldest and most complex assault in years.
Authorities said one police officer and at least 17 militants were killed in the multi-pronged attacks in Kabul and three eastern cities.
The Taliban began their near-simultaneous assaults on embassies, government buildings and Nato bases at 1.30pm on Sunday, saying it was their response to Nato's recent claims that the uprising was weak.
The US, German and British embassies and some coalition and Afghan government buildings took direct and indirect fire, according to Lt Col Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the US-led coalition. Residents near the parliament building said rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire rocked their neighbourhood throughout the night and into the morning.
Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said militants took up positions in a building under construction near parliament. Some MPs grabbed weapons and started fighting when militants fired on the parliament building on Sunday.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said dozens of suicide attackers and gunmen were involved in attacks that had been planned for two months to show the insurgency's power after Nato commanders called the Taliban weak and said there was no indication they were planning a spring offensive. "We are strong and we can attack anywhere we want," Mujahid said, calling the attacks an opening salvo ahead of the yearly spring offensive, when warmer weather typically brings increased attacks.
The gunmen appeared to be focusing on the nearby British embassy, which also suffered "limited damage", said Foreign Secretary William Hague. He said all staff were safe.