TOPICS > World

Insurgents Target U.S. Embassy, NATO Headquarters in Kabul Attack

September 13, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
LISTEN SEE PODCASTS

TRANSCRIPT

JUDY WOODRUFF: It was a bold blitz, a day-long series of attacks in Kabul, Afghanistan. Taliban fighters infiltrated the city to strike at the American Embassy, NATO coalition headquarters and other key buildings with grenades, machine guns and even suicide bombs.

No Americans were killed, but at least seven Afghans died.

We have a report from John Sparks of Independent Television News.

JOHN SPARKS: This afternoon, the war in Afghanistan came to the capital. Taliban militants took the high ground, a multi-story construction site turned into a fortress in the very heart of the city.

(GUNFIRE)

JOHN SPARKS: Soldiers took potshots from below while civilians ran for their lives, this a sophisticated attack with multiple targets. No one felt safe in Kabul. This slab of concrete and steel, located behind the U.S. Embassy, and NATO’s headquarters are close by. From here, militants took aim with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

The city’s heavily fortified diplomatic district offered residents no sanctuary. Some were forced to flee. Others hid in bunkers. A school bus was destroyed by a falling grenade. Its occupants had left their bags, but nobody was on board at the time.

“I was sitting here when the rocket landed,” said this man. “One person was injured. My car windows were smashed.”

Other targets were also attacked. The country’s police headquarters was hit by a suicide bomber. And today, a Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility, saying they’d been planning this operation for months.

They are just the latest in a string of attacks designed to undermine any sense of security in the city, this as NATO hands over responsibility for security to Afghan forces.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, NATO secretary-general: The Taliban tried to test transition, but they can’t stop it. Transition is on track and it will continue.

JOHN SPARKS: These pictures show the defense of NATO’s headquarters in the city. Troops rushed to protect the perimeter while sirens sound the alarm. It seems there are few places in this country that the Taliban cannot go and the fear that these attacks are but a taste of greater chaos to come.

GWEN IFILL: This was the third major attack in Kabul since late June.

But, in Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said U.S. diplomats will press on.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: The civilians who serve are dedicated, brave men and women committed to advancing our mission. They will not be intimidated by this kind of cowardly attack.