U.S. Embassy Attacked in Afghanistan

Sep 13, 2011, 10:55 by R.E. Christian

Suicide bombers and gunmen carried out a coordinated attack on the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters Tuesday in Kabul, Afghanistan, officials said.

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Kerri S. Hannan told The Washington Post embassy personnel were ordered to take cover, but provided no other information. It was unclear whether all personnel were accounted for.

U.S. Marines were seen on the roof of the embassy, the BBC reported.

Calls to the NATO facility were not answered, the Post said.

At least 10 explosions and automatic weapons fire were reported, The New York Times said.

It was unclear whether anyone was injured or killed in the attack. Times reported one rocket apparently hit a private school minibus. Witnesses reported seeing children being carried away bleeding and perhaps unconscious.

The attack was launched from a tall building under construction near an area that includes the U.S. Embassy compound and the headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force.

"We don't know how many suicide bombers are in the building," Col. Abdul Zahir, a member of the Kabul police's criminal investigative division, told the Times. "They're shooting at the embassy. We're still in fighting position. We can't say anything."

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the U.S. embassy, NATO headquarters and the presidential palace were targeted.

"They are under the fire of our heavy and small arms," he told the Post in a telephone interview.

Kabul residents said several rockets struck Wazir Akbar Khan, an upscale neighborhood where some embassies and non-governmental organizations are based.

Hamid M. Khan, a rule of law adviser with the U.S. Institute of Peace said he and colleagues were in a safe room in their compound.

"The entire staff is hunkered down," he said via his smartphone. "We're very tense and alarmed by how close the rocket attacks and gunshots keep coming."

A journalist with the Afghan Tolo News channel said via Twitter a rocket struck the network's building. A BBC correspondent posted on Twitter he heard rockets landing near his location.

The attack occurred less than two months after Afghan forces assumed responsibility for security in the capital.

Source: UPI