U.S. and Western embassies attacked in Kabul

September 13, 2011 - 17:1
altKABUL/TRIPOLI - Taliban suicide fighters launched a multi-pronged attack in the Afghan capital on Tuesday, firing rockets toward the U.S., British, and other Western embassies and sending three suicide bombers to targets in the city's west and near the airport.

On Monday, Pentagon confirmed that some U.S. troops were deployed on the ground in Tripoli after the U.S. embassy in Tripoli came under attack from forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, RTT news reported.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby said the deployment of the four unnamed U.S. troops was not for any military action.

In Kabul, at least two civilians and two policemen were killed and 22 people were wounded in the Taliban attacks, as more than a dozen explosions echoed through the upmarket and heavily guarded diplomatic district, and NATO and Afghan helicopters roared overhead, Reuters reported.

The Taliban have launched high-profile attacks on multiple targets in Kabul in the past, but this is the first time they have organized simultaneous assaults on such separate areas.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks which

NATO said were an attempt to derail plans to hand over security to Afghan forces.

Near the heavily fortified diplomatic district, insurgents took over a multi-storey building under construction and fired rockets and automatic rifles at several embassy and NATO compounds.

The gun battle continued into the early evening, with two attackers killed and two or three more still at large, the Ministry of the Interior said on twitter, adding that one policeman was killed.

One civilian was killed and 16 wounded there, said Kargar Norghuli, a spokesman for the Health Ministry.

In western Kabul, just a few kilometers away, a suicide bomber detonated explosives at the entrance to a building belonging to the city's civil order police, killing a policeman and wounding two.

A second suicide bomber killed a civilian at the regional police center, near the Habibia high school, and wounded four, Asadullah Ludin, a senior police spokesman.

And at a road near the airport, a suicide bomber was killed by police and 7 kg (15.5 lb) of explosives were seized, the office of the Kabul police chief said in a statement.

The Taliban claimed responsibility. Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the fighters were armed with rocket-propelled grenades, suicide bomb vests and AK-47 rifles, and was targeting government buildings, the U.S. embassy and the headquarters of NATO-led forces.

Explosions were interspersed with gunfire all afternoon, and at least two rockets landed in upmarket Wazir Akbar Khan district, home to the U.S., British and other embassies.

One hit a school bus, but it appeared to have been empty at the time of impact. Two NATO helicopters circled the building in central Abdul Haq square, which the attackers had taken over.

The U.S. embassy said its personnel were safe while British Ambassador Sir William Patey confirmed the nearby U.S. embassy had been a target.

"Aware of attack on U.S. Embassy. All UK Embassy staff accounted for," Patey said on Twitter.