Saturday, June 29, 2013

Taliban insurgents attack CIA station in Kabul

Taliban insurgents attack CIA station in Kabul

June 25, 2013 by Ian Allen

Taliban assailants launched an unprecedented attack against the presidential palace in Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday morning, which included a targeted assault on a nearby command post of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The daring attack began at approximately 6:30 a.m. outside the eastern gate of the palace, which is located in Kabul’s downtown Shash Darak district. The heavily guarded district contains, aside from most Afghan government buildings, dozens of foreign embassies and media offices. Hundreds of Afghan and foreign officials run for cover as over a dozen explosions were heard near the headquarters of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense, which is located next door to the presidential palace.

The attack reportedly began when a group of about four or five insurgents approached the palace’s eastern gate with a small track laden with explosives. As the vehicle approached the gate, the passengers jumped out and began throwing grenades, while the car exploded at the gate. Afghan security guards fled the scene and the assailants were able to enter the grounds of the presidential palace and roamed around for several minutes before they were engaged in a firefight by Afghan and North Atlantic Treaty Organization security personnel.

The attackers appeared to concentrate primarily on three buildings: the presidential palace, the Ministry of Defense, and the nearby Ariana Hotel, which is widely understood to host the main CIA command post in Kabul. On Tuesday afternoon, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, told French news agency AFP that “the CIA office” in downtown Kabul was “the main target” of the assault, along with the palace and defense ministry.

The attack occurred as nearly a hundred reporters had gathered outside the presidential palace in order to cover a press conference by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, which was scheduled to start at 9:00 a.m. Both journalists and officials scrambled for cover as “bullets flew overhead”, according to a BBC correspondent in the Afghan capital. The attack appeared to be over by 8:00 a.m., with the government claiming that all attackers had been shot dead. The police said that the Taliban assault team had managed to penetrate tight security by using a “fake vehicle security pass”. The Afghan and American governments have yet to comment on the incident.


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