Taliban attack Kabul presidential palace
Elsewhere, a minibus hit a bomb buried in the road in southern Afghanistan, killing 11 members of a family, said Kandahar governor’s spokesman Ahmad Jawed Faisal. Faisal said the dead included eight women, two children and a man, and two other men were also wounded.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Kabul palace attack, which came as reporters were gathering for a news event on Afghan youth at which President Hamid Karzai was expected to talk about ongoing efforts to open peace talks with the militant group.
The palace is in a large fortified area of downtown Kabul that also includes the US Embassy and the headquarters for the NATO-led coalition forces. Access is heavily restricted. It houses Karzai’s residence but it was not immediately clear whether the president was in the building at the time and his spokesman did not answer his phone.
Gunfire started around 6:30 am (local time) inside a heavily guarded area near the east gate leading to the palace next to the Afghan Ministry of Defence and the former Ariana Hotel, which former US intelligence officials have confirmed is used by the CIA.
Kabul police chief General Mohamad Ayub Salangi said three or four gunmen jumped out of their SUV and opened fire after being stopped by security forces while trying to use fake documents to get through a checkpoint. All gunmen were killed, and one palace security guard was wounded, he said.
A car bomb then exploded as it tried to enter the area. About 20 journalists took cover behind a religious shrine, pulling a schoolboy off the street who had been caught in the open on his way to school.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility, saying in a text message the militants had ‘brought death to the enemy’ with a suicide attack. 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.’