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Afghan police: Presidential compound attackers killed in gunfight

Published: Updated:

The Afghan presidential palace and the national CIA office in central Kabul was attacked early Tuesday by Taliban militants.

All the fighters died in the attack, Afghan police told AFP news agency, saying they had jumped out of their explosives-laden car before detonating it. Police said all the assailants had been killed after a 90-minute gunfight.

Kabul police chief Mohammad Ayoub Salangi told reporters at the scene that all three or four militants had died.

The first explosions hit at about 6:30 am, sending smoke into the air in a high-security area of Kabul that also contains many embassies and official buildings.

Blasts and gunshots shook the city for an hour after, according to AFP.

Police said that three or four attackers had approached one entrance to the sprawling palace area and had fled their explosives-laden car before detonating it.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the early morning attack.

"Today at 6.30 a.m. a number of martyrs attacked the presidential palace, defense ministry and the Ariana Hotel," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a text message to Reuters.

A palace source told AFP that the expansive grounds around the building had not been breached.

President Hamid Karzai, who lives in the palace, was due to hold a press event on Tuesday morning and journalists had been asked to report to the building.

All roads to the palace are permanently closed off, with several rings of heavy security around the complex keeping people far away.

“A big group of attackers have struck against the CIA office as the main target and also the palace and the defence ministry nearby,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.

The U.S. embassy sounded its “duck and cover” alarm drill and the US-led NATO military coalition said on its Twitter account: “Small arms fire and multiple explosions reported in Kabul.”

General Ayoub Salangi told Reuters the gunfight ended after about 90 minutes, also confirming that all the attackers killed.

The last major attack in Kabul was on June 11 when the Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for a suicide car bomb outside the Supreme Court that killed at least 15 civilians.

Tuesday’s attack came during a visit to Kabul by US envoy James Dobbins after a diplomatic bust-up over the Taliban’s new office in Qatar that was intended as a first step towards a peace deal to end 12 years of fighting in Afghanistan.

(With AFP)