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Six dead as Taliban battle continues near U.S. Embassy in Kabul

Afghan and international security forces continue to battle Taliban after coordinated attacks on U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul city center.

Kabul attacks 09 13 2011Enlarge
Afghanistan's security forces stand guard near the building where armed attackers exchanged fire with security forces in Kabul on September 13, 2011. Taliban gunmen with suicide bombs and heavy weaponry launched coordinated attacks in Kabul targeting NATO's headquarters and the US embassy, killing at least six people. (MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Taliban fighters launched coordinated attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul Tuesday, targeting the U.S. Embassy, NATO headquarters and police buildings with suicide bombs and heavy weaponry.

Six people have been killed and 16 injured, Kabul's police chief told the BBC. So far there are no reported U.S. casualties. 

GlobalPost correspondent Jean MacKenzie in Kabul described being trapped by the attacks, which are reportedly continuing into the night throughout the city center. 

"What is known as a "complex” attack — one that involves a series of assaults and various weaponry — is ongoing near the U.S. Embassy," MacKenzie wrote. "Explosions have been heard in several areas of Kabul."

From GlobalPost's correspondent in Afghanistan: Kabul attack — shape of things to come? 

Security forces are continuing to battle Taliban fighters who are understood to have taken refuge in a high-rise building overlooking the area, according to media reports. Afghan security officials have cordoned off streets and cautioned residents to remain indoors.

"Nerves are stretched, and no one knows what will happen next," MacKenzie wrote.

The Taliban has  claimed responsibility for the attacks. Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told the Reuters news agency that "the primary targets of the attackers are the intelligence agency building and a ministry."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the attacks "cowardly," and said American work in Afghanistan will not be derailed by the violence.

"We will take all necessary steps, not only to ensure the safety of our people, but to secure the area and to ensure that those who perpetrated this attack are dealt with," Clinton told reporters in Washington, the Associated Press reports.

U.S. marines were seen on the roof of the U.S. Embassy earlier in the day, “assessing the situation and checking their defenses were robust," according to the BBC.

A Western military source Agence France-Presse that NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters was one of the targets.

The attack on Kabul comes three weeks after suicide attackers stormed the city's British Council office, killing 12 people on the anniversary of Afghanistan's independence from Britain in 1919.
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/110913/kabul-attack-targets-foreign-intelligence