Gun battle near U.S. Embassy in Kabul after suspected Taliban found with fake NATO IDs

McClatchy NewspapersJune 25, 2013 

— Afghan soldiers, presidential guards and members of a CIA security force fought a pitched battle with a small group of insurgents near the presidential palace, the U.S. Embassy and the main NATO headquarters Tuesday morning.

Afghan officials said all the insurgents were killed. There was no information on other casualties or damages to the facilities, which are located in one the capital’s most heavily guarded areas.

Afghan officials said the attackers opened fire after guards stopped them as they were driving a type of SUV favored by diplomats and other VIPs. The attackers were carrying fake NATO identification cards, the official said.

The NATO based went under lockdown until Afghan soldiers, presidential guards and others including guards from the nearby Central Intelligence Agency base killed the attackers, officials said.

Early reports said President Hamid Karzai was never in serious danger and was unhurt. The insurgents never breached the walls of the palaces or the bases, but did fire on the CIA base and a nearby hotel. By mid-morning there was no word on casualties or damage.

The attack began around as a group of journalists were gathering outside a gate at the presidential palace for a media event with Karzai. Several reported explosions nearby and drifting smoke but none was harmed. According to a Twitter posting from the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Karzai was to speak at a conference about youth.

In an emailed statement, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. It came as Afghan and U.S. officials were trying to figure out the next steps in a stalled effort to start peace talks with the Taliban. Ambassador James Dobbins, the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, had arrived in Kabul to meet with Karzai.

Natiq is a McClatchy special correspondent. Price reported from Doha, Qatar. Email: jayprice@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @jayinkabul

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