KABUL (AFP/Reuters) Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers attacked buildings across the heart of Kabul on Monday, triggering fierce gun battles with security forces and killing at least five people including a child. Fires raged after two shopping centres, a cinema and the only five-star hotel in the Afghan capital were targeted by heavily armed militants who set off a wave of explosions apparently targeting nearby government buildings. The insurgents failed in an apparent attempt to seize government buildings but demonstrated their ability to cause mayhem at a time when US President Barack Obama is trying to rally support for an expanded military mission to fight them. Three members of the Afghan security forces and two civilians were killed and 71 people were wounded, the government said. The Defence Ministry said in a statement 10 attackers had been killed, although other officials gave slightly different figures, perhaps not counting bombers who blew themselves up. Interior minister Hanif Atmar said a child and security forces personnel were among the dead. They were killed either by detonating themselves or they were shot by security forces, he told reporters of the militants. President Hamid Karzai said the situation was under control after more than three hours of fighting and explosions, which came as he was swearing in new cabinet ministers inside the presidential palace. The enemies of the Afghan people conducted a series of attacks today, causing fear and terror among the population, Karzai said in a statement. The president condemns these terrorist attacks. The attacks began at the peak of morning rush hour, when suicide bombers stormed buildings around Pashtunistan Square, setting off explosions that sent clouds of black smoke into the sky and people fleeing in terror. Atmar said a suicide bomber was challenged by a security agent in front of the central bank at 9.50 am (0520 GMT) and immediately blew himself up. By 11 am security forces had moved into key positions, defence minister Abdul Rahim Wardak told the same press conference. At 11:17 am a suicide bomber driving an ambulance was stopped by Afghan security forces and detonated himself, he said. The Taliban, waging an increasingly deadly insurgency against the Western-backed Kabul government and foreign troops in Afghanistan, claimed responsibility. Twenty of our suicide bombers have entered the area and fighting is ongoing, a man calling himself Zabihullah Mujahid, who said he was a Taliban spokesman, told AFP. He said the presidential palace and ministries around Pashtunistan Square were the targets, but it appeared that government buildings had not been breached and civilian gathering places bore the brunt. Smoke billowed from the Qari Sami shopping mall on the square, a five-storey building that used to be the Bamiyan Hotel and one of the buildings in the Serena Hotel, the citys only five-star hotel. I saw four people wrapped up in patus (blankets) coming and the guard went forward and asked them 'what are you doing, said local grocer Ismail, who was in his shop in one of the malls when militants stormed in. One of them opened his patu and showed the guard a suicide vest packed with explosives and said to him, 'get out of my way or youll die. Militants blockaded themselves inside the nearby Ariana Cinema and shot at security forces, who struggled to secure the building. The attacks were a slap in the face for an initiative to lure Taliban fighters to lay down their arms, which Karzai plans to announce at an international conference in London this month. A Reuters correspondent at the scene of the shopping centre siege saw the body of a shopkeeper carried out. People wept over the body as gunshots could be heard. Later, a Reuters cameraman saw the bullet-riddled bodies of two of the militants on the street, outside the building where security forces had dumped them. Shah, who had escaped the shopping centre, said the gunmen had stormed in after an explosion at the gate to the nearby presidential palace. The head of Afghanistans National Directorate for Security (NDS), Amrullah Saleh, said militants took two children hostage but later freed them after negotiations. Commander of the 113,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban under US and NATO command, US General Stanley McChrystal, condemned the attack while praising the actions of the Afghan security forces. Todays attack by the Taliban in Kabul is yet another example of their brutality and contempt for the Afghan people, McChrystal said in a statement. The United States condemned the attacks as a ruthless act by the Taliban, whose rebellion to topple the government and oust foreign troops has been gaining strength since a US-led invasion in 2001 removed them from power.