Terror has once again struck the heart of Kabul.
Taliban militants attacked two guest houses and a luxury hotel, housing a shopping centre, in the Afghan capital – all popular with foreigners.
At least 16 people have been killed, including an Italian diplomat, a French national and nine Indian government officials. Nearly 40 more were wounded.
The assault lasted two hours, with fighters opening fire, hurling grenades and staging suicide bombings.
The coordinated attack comes in the second week of Operation Moshtarak, a joint NATO-Afghan offensive targetting the Taliban in their stronghold in Helmand province.
Analysts say the Islamic militants are hoping to mobilise public opinion in the West against the war in Afghanistan.
And in Italy, it appears to be working. There were opposition calls for a troop withdrawal. The latest death lifts to 23 the number of Italians who have died in the country, since the NATO-led mission began nine years ago.