US consulate in Afghanistan rocked by multiple blasts, gunfire

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The US consulate in the Afghan province of Herat was attacked resulting in at least six killed, four of them attackers, after a car bomb explosion was followed by a gun fight between militants and security forces.

An Afghan army spokesman told the BBC that the initial blast had damaged the consulate’s outer defences and allowed the attackers to breach the perimeter and begin shooting at the compound’s buildings. A spokesman for the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in Herat, a western province adjacent to Iran.

A second blast was reported in the parking lot of the consulate a short time after the original explosion. Afghanis wrote on  Twitter that US troops were seen “shooting randomly” near the  consulate, although those reports are unverified.

NATO and ISAF helicopters were reported to be flying overhead and  shops throughout the region abruptly closed down.

Journalist Esmatullah Koshar reported that “an armed clash was underway near the US consulate building” in Herat.

“The explosion was carried out by a vehicle borne suicide bomber outside US consulate,” he wrote, adding there was “a dense smoke in the air.”

Early reports indicated all the attackers were killed by Afghan security forces and seven civilians were wounded, although some media outlets speculated the number hurt could be closer to 15. The entire episode reportedly lasted between 30 and 35 minutes.

This incident, on the heels of the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, is the just the most recent violence aimed at US troops as they prepare to make a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014.

General Rahmatullah Safi, the chief of police in Herat, told the AP that an afghan translator had been killed. Two police officers and two Afghan security guards at the US consulate were hurt, with at least one of the men trapped under the rubble.

The ISAF confirmed via Twitter that the consulate is secured and consulate security forces “defeated” the attackers.

Five Taliban suicide bombers reportedly entered the consulate building, according to New york Times journalist Sharifullah Sahak. Four were able to explode themselves before the fifth was apprehended.

 

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