Taliban Kill 7 in Attack on US Embassy, NATO in Kabul

Posted September 13th, 2011 at 6:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Taliban insurgents armed with suicide vests and rocket-propelled grenades attacked several high-level targets in the Afghan capital, Kabul, Tuesday, killing at least seven people and wounding more than 19 others.

Local authorities said at least three of the attackers were also killed in the assaults on NATO's headquarters, the U.S. Embassy, the Afghan Intelligence Agency and several other targets near the city's diplomatic district.

Gunfire and bomb blasts could be still heard in Kabul late Tuesday, as Afghan security forces responded and, with help from NATO troops, were able to put down the attacks.

Both NATO and the U.S. Embassy said none of their staff were wounded in the attack.

In a press release, Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attacks and praised the effective response of the Afghan authorities. He said such actions will not stop the security transition in the country, but instead embolden the Afghan people's determination to take responsibility for their own country's affairs.

Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Siddiq Siddiqi said the attackers' only aim was to sow terror.

NATO spokesman General Carsten Jacobson said the Taliban is shifting to terrorist tactics because the insurgents are unable to win militarily.

A Taliban spokesman told news agencies that the insurgents' primary targets were the Afghan intelligence agency, a ministry, the U.S. Embassy, and NATO.

In Washington, CIA Director David Petraeus told U.S. lawmakers that a rocket-propelled grenade hit the U.S. Embassy complex, wounding four Afghans who were lined up to wait for U.S. visas.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said American civilians are working to assist Afghans with a transition to stability and will not be intimidated by what she called a “cowardly attack.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday's assault would “in no way” deter the U.S. commitment to the mission of transferring security control to local forces.

In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed confidence that Afghan forces could deal with the situation in Kabul. He said that the transfer of security from NATO to Afghan forces would not be derailed by such attacks, adding the transition is on track and will continue.

U.S. and NATO forces are set to withdraw their combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Afghan security forces have already taken security control of several cities and provinces.