U.S. Embassy, NATO HQ in Kabul Attacked by Gunmen
2 p.m. ET | According to Afghan authorities, four police men and two civilians have died in Tuesday’s attack, which continues into the nighttime hours in Kabul. It is believed that two gunmen remain in a high-rise building, locked in a gun battle with police. Four other insurgents have already been killed.
The BBC’s Quentin Sommerville wrote from Kabul:
The Taliban have shown consistently that they can attack right at the heart of the Afghan government and the international mission.
It does not matter how secure those buildings are, the insurgents are still managing to cause chaos in the city.
11:20 p.m. ET | Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the morning assault a “cowardly attack.”
“We will take all necessary steps, not only to ensure the safety of our people, but to secure the area and to ensure that those who perpetrated this attack are dealt with,” she said.
CIA Director David Petraeus estimated that around five insurgents carried out the attack.
8:30 a.m. ET | Insurgents attacked the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters in downtown Kabul on Tuesday, killing at least one Afghan police officer and wounding four people. The attackers used assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades and at least one suicide bomber. No U.S. or NATO personnel were injured. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, the third large-scale incident in Kabul this summer.
One rocket landed near a school bus carrying children and a television station. A group of insurgents was seen firing from a building under construction. At least 10 rockets were launched during the first phases of the assault. Police cordoned off streets to root out the gunmen, whose locations were still unconfirmed.
NATO began handing over security responsibilities of some provinces and cities to Afghan forces in July, including Kabul, which means that NATO forces can intervene at their request. After Tuesday’s attack, NATO helicopters were flying in the area and Marines took positions at the top of the embassy building. The planned withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops has been complicated by concerns about the readiness of Afghan security forces, which have been built up rapidly but have also been plagued by poor pay and training and desertion.
Photo by Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images.