Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Kabul Under Attack


Taliban launch intense attack in heart of Kabul

September 13, 2011 10:06 a.m. EDT

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U.S. Embassy under siege in Kabul
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: An EU representative, Karzai condemn the attacks
  • An ISAF tweet says Afghan police killed an attacker before he got to his target
  • An embassy worker calls the strike "well-coordinated"
  • There is some damage at the NATO base, an ISAF official says, citing initial reports
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Afghan and coalition forces battled Taliban militants who launched a brazen assault against high-profile coalition targets in central Kabul Tuesday.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told CNN that they targeted "the U.S. Embassy, governmental organizations and other foreign organizations."
"Our insurgents attacked in Kabul city," Mujahid said as reports surfaced of violence in other parts of the city as well.
The strike occurred amid intelligence that insurgents might launch a high-profile attack in the capital around the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States, a coalition officer and a senior ISAF official confirmed to CNN.
Militants opened fire near the U.S. Embassy and NATO's International Security Assistance Force headquarters after they stormed a nearby abandoned building, U.S., NATO and Afghan officials said.
Militants fire on U.S. Embassy in Kabul
ISAF said the insurgents attacked the "vicinity" of the sites using small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. An ISAF official said there are initial reports that some rounds hit the NATO base and caused minor damage.
ISAF said Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces immediately responded and were at the scene. Coalition forces were providing air support.
A senior ISAF official said there are fewer than 10 insurgents involved in the attack, which was launched from an area outside the secure zone surrounding both areas.
The Afghan Interior Ministry said four suicide attackers entered the building site from which the attack is being carried out. Two of them were killed and two were "resisting."
The abandoned building is next to Abdul Haq Square, a few blocks from the U.S. Embassy, an intelligence officer told CNN.
An embassy spokeswoman said staff at the U.S. facility had been told to take cover and there were no casualties among embassy personnel.
"The U.S. Embassy can confirm an attack has occurred in the area of the U.S. Embassy" by people armed with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms, spokeswoman Kerri Hannan said.
A U.S. Embassy worker, who asked not to be named for security reasons, called the assault "well-coordinated" and said there was incoming fire around every corner of the building.
After a few hours of loud and intense fire, he said, the situation appeared to calm down. He said the people at the embassy were well-protected by the guards there.
ISAF personnel currently are being told to stay indoors and take cover but there are no casualties, the official said. Gen. John Allen, ISAF commander, remains on the compound, ISAF said.
The Afghan National Directorate of Security and the Interior Ministry spokesman said a firefight with insurgents was ongoing. Militants were using rocket-propelled grenades and light weapons. A hospital official said two injured civilians were being treated and the hospital expects to handle more casualties.
Central Kabul is considered a high-security area, and it is protected by police and other security forces.
The area has been cordoned off, according to Gen. Mohammed Zahir, the head of criminal investigation for the Afghan police.
The coalition and ISAF officials pointed out that while this attack is considered to be high-profile because of the U.S. embassy and ISAF targets, it so far is not considered a "spectacular" attack because of the small number of gunmen and limited weapons involved.
Other violence was also reported.
In a Twitter message, ISAF said a "suicide attacker was identified & killed by ANP before reaching target near Kabul airport," making reference to the Afghan National Police. There were no further details.
The Taliban said a suicide attack also targeted a police compound in the western part of the city. Two police officers were injured, the Interior Ministry said. A suicide attacker clad in an explosives vest was shot before he could enter the compound.
A suicide attack injured a policeman and a civilian in front of a high school in the western part of the city.
The U.S. Embassy issued an emergency message about the series of attacks across Kabul Tuesday, saying "the situation is uncertain and ongoing. There are media reports that many roads are closed in Kabul." It said appointments for visas or U.S. citizen services have been canceled for now and it said Americans in Afghanistan should monitor the websites of the embassy and the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs for the latest information.
"We urge U.S. citizens to shelter in place, avoid unnecessary movement, and to avoid the neighborhood around the U.S. Embassy: Wazir Akbar Khan, Microrayon, and Massoud Circle," it said.
"The Embassy also urges U.S. citizens to remain vigilant and avoid areas where Westerners congregate. Do not discuss travel plans or other personal matters with strangers, or in public. Be alert and aware of your surroundings, and always travel with mobile phones or appropriate communication equipment."
These are the latest attacks by the Taliban in a violent period. Over the weekend, two Afghan laborers were killed, and 77 U.S. troops and 25 Afghan workers were wounded in a Taliban truck bombing on an ISAF base in Afghanistan's Wardak province.
Last month, Taliban suicide bombers killed at least eight people in Kabul when they attacked the British Council, a British-government-affiliated body that fosters cultural and academic exchanges.
The Taliban harbored the al Qaeda network that launched the 9/11 strike. A U.S.-led coalition toppled the Taliban and has been fighting militants in Afghanistan for nearly 10 years.
NATO is drawing down and handing over security control to national forces. Some 10,000 U.S. troops are scheduled to depart by year's end, with all U.S. military personnel out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Vygaudas Usackas, head of the European Union mission in Afghanistan were among those who condemned the attacks.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the Taliban attacks in Kabul Tuesday were an attempt to derail plans to hand over security responsibility to Afghan forces in Afghanistan.
"We are witnessing that the Taliban try to test (the) transition but they can't stop it. Transition is on track and it will continue," Rasmussen said.

http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/13/u-s-embassy-in-afghanistan-attacked-taliban-claims-responsibility/

3 police killed in Taliban attacks in Kabul

3 police killed in Taliban attacks in Kabul
September 13th, 2011
10:09 AM ET
[Update 10:09 a.m. ET] Three police officers have been killed in a string of attacks by the Taliban in Kabul on Tuesday, police in the capital said.
[Update 9:37 a.m. ET] In a Twitter message, ISAF said a "suicide attacker was identified & killed by ANP before reaching target near Kabul airport," making reference to the Afghan National Police. There were no further details.
[Update 9:04 a.m. ET] The Afghan Interior Ministry said four suicide attackers entered the building site from which the attack on the U.S. Embassy and ISAF headquarters is being carried out. Two of them were killed and two were "resisting."
[Update 8:56 a.m. ET] What does today's Kabul violence say about U.S. chances for success in Afghanistan? TIME reports.
[Update 8:48  a.m. ET] An ISAF official said there are initial reports that some insurgent rounds hit the NATO base and caused minor damage.
[Update 8:29  a.m. ET] The U.S. Embassy issued an emergency message about the series of attacks across Kabul on Tuesday, saying "the situation is uncertain and ongoing.  There are media reports that many roads are closed in Kabul." It said appointments for visas or U.S. citizen services have been canceled for now and it said Americans in Afghanistan should monitor the websites of the embassy and the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs for the latest information.
"We urge U.S. citizens to shelter in place, avoid unnecessary movement, and to avoid the neighborhood around the U.S. Embassy: Wazir Akbar Khan, Microrayon, and Massoud Circle," it said.
"The Embassy also urges U.S. citizens to remain vigilant and avoid areas where Westerners congregate.  Do not discuss travel plans or other personal matters with strangers, or in public.  Be alert and aware of your surroundings, and always travel with mobile phones or appropriate communication equipment."
[Update 8:27  a.m. ET] A coalition officer and a senior ISAF official both confirmed to CNN that there had been intelligence that insurgents might launch a high-profile attack in the capital around the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
[Update 8:23  a.m. ET] An Afghan MI-35 helicopter gunship is attacking a building from which insurgents are firing, The Telegraph reports in a blog post.
[Update 7:59 a.m. ET] A senior ISAF official says less than 10 insurgents are involved in attack on the U.S. Embassy and nearby ISAF headquarters. There are no casualties among ISAF personnel, the official says.
[Update 7:51 a.m. ET] Iran's English-language Press TV says its offices in Kabul have come under attack. Several people are injured, it says.
[Update 7:44 a.m. ET] NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the Taliban attacks in Kabul on Tuesday were an attempt to derail plans to hand over security responsibility to Afghan forces in Afghanistan.
"We are witnessing that the Taliban try to test (the) transition but they can't stop it. Transition is on track and it will continue," Rasmussen said.
[Update 7:40 a.m. ET] Sidiq Sidiqi, an Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman, said a police officer has been killed and security forces have killed "two of the suicide attackers in the building" near the U.S. Embassy. He said police think there are two or three more attackers in the structure.
[Update 7:31 a.m. ET] Black Hawk helicopters are firing on insurgents in a Kabul building, the Guardian reports in a blog post.
[Update 7:24 a.m. ET] Afghan security forces killed two attackers firing on coalition targets from a building in central Kabul Tuesday, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.
[Update 7:23 a.m. ET] The Taliban said its fighters also struck a police convoy in the western part of Kabul. No further details are available.
[Update 7:18 a.m. ET] U.S. Embassy says no casualties among embassy personnel from Taliban attack in area of the embassy.
[Update 7:12 a.m. ET] Taliban militants staged a major assault against high-profile coalition targets in central Kabul Tuesday, a brazen strike by the tenacious Islamist movement in Afghanistan's capital.
"Our insurgents attacked in Kabul city," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told CNN. "Their target is the U.S. Embassy, governmental organizations and other foreign organizations."
Militants opened fire near the U.S. Embassy and NATO's International Security Assistance Force headquarters Tuesday after they stormed into a nearby abandoned building, U.S., NATO and Afghan officials said.
The location of the building is next to Abdul Haq Square, a few blocks from the U.S. Embassy, an intelligence officer told CNN. An embassy spokeswoman said staff there have been told to take cover.
The Afghan National Directorate of Security said the firefight with insurgents was ongoing.  Militants were using rocket-propelled grenades and light weapons. A hospital official said two injured civilians were being treated and expect to handle more casualties.
Central Kabul is considered high-security area, and it is protected by police and other security forces.
The area has been cordoned off, according to Gen. Mohammed Zahir, the head of criminal investigation for the police.
This is the latest major attack by the Taliban in a violent period that coincides with the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States.
Over the weekend, two Afghan laborers were killed, and 77 U.S. troops and 25 Afghan workers were wounded in a Taliban truck bombing on an ISAF base in Afghanistan's Wardak province.
Last month, Taliban suicide bombers killed at least eight people in Kabul when they attacked the British Council. That's a British-government-affiliated body that fosters cultural and academic exchanges.
[Update 6:40 a.m. ET] Five suicide attackers are involved in the attack in central Kabul, Reuters news agency quotes a senior Kabul police official as saying.
[Update 6:35 a.m. ET] Militants opened fire near the U.S. Embassy and NATO's International Security Assistance Force headquarters in central Kabul Tuesday after they stormed into a nearby abandoned building, U.S., NATO and Afghan officials said.
The Afghan National Directorate of Security said the firefight with insurgents was on-going.  Militants have fired rocket-propelled grenades and light weapons.
Central Kabul is a high-security area, protected by police and other security forces.
The area has been cordoned off, according to Gen. Mohammed Zahir, the head of criminal investigation for the police.
The Taliban claimed responsibility, a spokesman said.
"Our insurgents attacked in Kabul city," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.  "Their target is the U.S. Embassy, governmental organizations and other foreign organizations."
There have been a number of recent attacks in Kabul that the Taliban has claimed responsibility for.
[Update 6:17 a.m. ET] The headquarters of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is also under Taliban attack, news reports from Afghanistan say.  The attack appears to involve a number of suicide bombers in Kabul, the BBC reports.
[Update 6:00 a.m. ET] Staff at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul took cover Tuesday as militants fired on the city center from a building they took over a few blocks away, U.S. and Afghan officials said.
The Afghan National Directorate of Security said rocket-propelled grenades have been fired at the embassy.
The area has been cordoned off by police as they battle the insurgents, according to Gen. Mohammed Zahir, the head of criminal investigation for the police.
The Taliban claimed responsibility, a spokesman said.
"Our insurgents attacked in Kabul city," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.  "Their target is the U.S. Embassy, governmental organisations and other foreign organisations."
[Update 5:50 a.m. ET] Gunmen fired on U.S. Embassy from nearby abandoned building, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux reports from Kabul. Embassy personnel told to take cover, Malveaux reports.
[Update 5:43 a.m.] Militants fired on the U.S. Embassy in central Kabul Tuesday after taking over a building a few blocks away, security officials said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, a spokesman said.

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