The US embassy and NATO headquarters in the Afghan capital are under heavy attack by a group of Taliban insurgents using small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. The attack has left at least five people dead.
According to local police, at least 6 people have been killed in the attacks, and at least 20 have been wounded. An Afghan journalist was shot in leg outside the building in downtown Kabul as clashes continue in the city.
Afghan officials report three stories of the building used to attack the US embassy have been cleared, two stories still remain to be cleared. Two atackers are possibly hiding on the sixth and the eighth floors, 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 TV channel Press TV has said its offices in Kabul were attacked, and several of their staff have been injured.
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.
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.