Following the killing of 16 Afghan civilians by an American soldier, we ask whether US war strategy can remain intact.
The Afghan capital has come under co-ordinated attack, with explosions and gunfire rocking the diplomatic
enclave – home to government buildings, Western embassies and NATO bases – as gunmen tried to enter parliament.
Suicide bombers had taken over three buildings across the city, each respectively near the diplomatic quarters, the Afghan parliament, and a coalition base, local media reported, citing police sources.
More than 10 explosions in all rocked the capital, and heavy gunfire shook the city for more than an hour after the initial blast.
NATO forces said in a statement that as many as seven locations were under attack across the capital.
The Taliban said they and other armed groups were behind the co-ordinated attacks in Kabul, which included attacks on the British and German embassies in the heavily guarded, central diplomatic district.
“We claim responsibility for these attacks,” Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban’s spokesman, said.
Taliban fighers had also launched assaults in two provinces, he said.
The area was sealed off by security forces.
Al Jazeera’s Qais Azimy, reporting from Kabul, said, “Taliban spokesperson said these attacks were part of their “spring offensive”.’
“Government officials said they had some information about the attacks and that’s why Afghan security forces were on high alert,” he said.
As the attacks began, several large explosions and bursts of gunfire were heard near the US embassy.
The embassy sounded alarms and warned staff to take cover, AFP reporters heard from their office near the embassy in the Wazir Akbar Khan area, which houses many diplomatic missions.
A spokesman said that the US embassy was in lockdown, on the other hand German foreign ministry said its embassy in Kabul was damaged but said no one was believed to be injured.
“Attacks are ongoing in the vicinity of the US embassy in Kabul. Avoid the area. Shelter in place,” the embassy said in a mobile phone text message.
‘All staff accounted for’
All staff were accounted for and safe, with no reports of injuries, said spokesman Gavin Sundwall.
In separate attacks, fighters also targeted government buildings in Logar province, the airport in Jalalabad, and a police facility in the town of Gardez in Paktia province.
“Government officials have said that the only place where the attack is over is Jalalabad, where three out of the four gunmen were killed, while the fourth was captured,” Al Jazeera’s Azimy said.
|Smoke rises from a tower belonging to the British embassy in Kabul [Reuters]|
“All the attackers wore suicide vests and carried AK-47 rifles,” he said.
Several other attackers tried to enter the parliament building, but were engaged by security forces and driven back, an official said.
Attackers fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a house used by British diplomats in the city centre and smoke billowed from the building after the blast, a Reuters news agency quoted a witness as saying.
Two rockets hit a British embassy guard tower near the Reuters office in the city.
They had taken cover in a building near the parliament and fighting was ongoing, parliamentary media officer Qudratullah Jawid told AFP news agency.
US army convoys could be seen coming to the area accompanied by Afghan police in flak jackets.