The US embassy and NATO headquarters in the Afghani capital came under heavy attack by a group of Taliban insurgents using small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. The attack on the capital killed at least nine people and wounded 23 others.
Two more loud explosions were heard and an Afghan journalist was shot in leg outside the building in downtown Kabul as clashes continued into the night.
Afghan officials report three stories of the building used to attack the US embassy have been cleared, two stories still remain to be cleared. Several insurgents were reportedly killed. At least two attackers are possibly hiding on either the eleventh or twelfth floor, said General Ayub, Kabul Police Chief.
Authorities in Kabul push back reporters and onlookers from the building as blasts continue in the city. No injuries amongst staff at the US embassy or NATO headquarters have yet been reported. However, the English language channel Press TV has said its offices in Kabul were attacked, and several of their staff have been injured.
Several police posts were attacked by suicide bombers, the Associated Press reported. One policeman was killed, as well as three suicide bombers, and two other policemen were wounded in those attacks.
Another suicide bomber attempted to enter a school, but was intercepted by security forces. The suicide bomber died, injuring two.
The Taliban claims it is staging a co-ordinated strike on Kabul's government district, which is meant to be a secure area. Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces responded to the attack and remain at the scene. NATO is providing air support. A 'White City' alert has been issued for the Afghan capital – UN's highest security threat condition.
But the Obama administration declared that the assaults on the US embassy would not deter the American mission in Afghanistan.
"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," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The attack in Kabul was launched by a “handful of attackers, five or so, apparently armed with suicide vests,” CIA Director David Petraeus announced after speaking with Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador to Afghanistan.
The attack started at around 13.30 local time when insurgents stormed and occupied an empty building. Four suicide bombers were involved in the assault which took place not far from the Russian embassy. Two have been killed and two still continue fighting, NBC News reports.
"Shots can be heard about a kilometer away from the embassy. No information is available yet about Russian citizens. Generally, reports on deaths and injured victims are very rough because fighting is continuing," the embassy's press officer, Stepan Anikeyev, told Interfax on Tuesday.
"Fires have broken out in two districts of Kabul, including near the embassy building, a kilometer away," he added.
Another suicide attacker was identified and killed by ANP before reaching target near the Kabul airport, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) media reports.
The assault comes just weeks after an attack on the British Council's office in the same district left 12 people dead.
The Taliban has been stepping up its advance across the country since NATO began transferring power to Afghan forces in July.
Pakistani lobbyist Ahmed Quraishi told RT the attack that took place in Afghanistan earlier on Tuesday is a devastating blow to the morale of the US military in Afghanistan.
"They have just marked the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and now we have this reminder that despite 10 years, Afghanistan is, as a matter of fact, not fully under the control of the US and their allies in Kabul,” he stated.
According to Quraishi, the attack demonstrates that there is tremendous support from people on the ground for these kinds of attacks.
“This particular attack would not have been possible without people in the neighborhood who facilitated the terrorists in carrying out this attack,” he concluded. “Afghanistan is not stable, and we will see more such attacks.”
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