Afghan Forces Thwart Attack In Kabul

By RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan
KABUL -- Afghan security forces have fought off an attack naer the presidential palace in Kabul, reportedly killing all the attackers.

The area where the attack occurred also houses other Afghan and foreign installations.

Kabul deputy police chief Daud Amin described to RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan how the battle started.

"The gate security is run by [NATO's International Security Assistance Force] and there was an ISAF guard. Two vehicles -- one was white and one was gray -- approached," Amin said. "The gray vehicle was checked and [those inside] were wearing foreign uniforms and they were allowed to enter. They went 30 to 40 meters and the guards became suspicious about the second vehicle and stopped it.

"When the guards began questioning them, the assailants came out of the vehicle and began firing. When the guards took up positions, the attackers detonated the vehicle, which was full of explosives."

Reports say explosions and gunfire continued for more than an hour in the area which also houses a building known to house the headquarters of the CIA in Afghanistan.

The Afghan Interior Ministry said all five assailants were killed. Three Afghan security guards from private security firms guarding foreign installations also died.

The incident occurred ahead of a planned press conference by President Hamid Karzai. A palace official said Karzai was inside the palace when the shooting started but was never in any danger.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack and confirmed his group was targeting the palace, the Defense Ministry. and "the CIA office."

Mujahid also said the Taliban fighters had inflicted "heavy casualties," but the militants have often made casualty claims in the past that later turned out to be untrue.

This latest violence comes one week after the Taliban opened a political office in Doha, Qatar, for peace negotiations.

Karzai has refused to send envoys to Qatar, in part because the office used the old flag and name of the country, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, from the time when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan.
With reporting by AFP, AP, and dpa