Taliban suicide bombers attack presidential palace and CIA headquarters in Afghanistan
- Militants attacked palace at around 6.30am, according to reports
- Gunfire and around seven or eight explosions heard
- Taliban confirm attack saying ‘we brought death to the enemy’
- Journalists had gathered for a press conference with President Karzai
By Steve Robson
Taliban suicide bombers have blown up a car bomb in an attack on the presidential palace and the CIA headquarters in Afghanistan.
Militants attacked the eastern gates of the palace at around 6.30am as a group of journalists were gathered for a press conference with President Hamid Karzai.
A series of gunfire and around seven or eight explosions were heard in the battle which lasted around 45 minutes.
The army said three or four attackers were killed but knew of no other deaths of security forces or civilians.
Smoke was seen rising from the large, fortified area in downtown Kabul that also includes the U.S. Embassy and the headquarters for the NATO-led coalition forces.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility, saying in a text message ‘we brought death to the enemy.’
He later suggested in an emailed statement that all three buildings had been targeted, saying the attack came ‘near the Ariana Hotel, the important CIA base, and also the presidential palace and Ministry of Defense.’
He said his forces killed all of the attackers, three or four men who had jumped out of a car and opened fire.
BBC correspondent Bilal Sarwary said militants were locked in clashes with President Hamid Karzai’s bodyguards, as well as security personnel from the nearby ministry of defence and a CIA station.
Police had no immediate comment, the Associated Press reported.
The attack comes after President Karzai expressed concern that the US had engaged in peace talks with the Taliban.
Lt. Col. Frank Hoelzner, a spokesman for the NATO coalition, said he had no immediate information but that the headquarters had not been affected by the attack.
The Taliban have indicated they are willing to open peace talks with the U.S. and the Afghanistan government and just last week opened an office in Qatar for possible negotiations.