KABUL, Afghanistan — Insurgents killed six United Nations workers and injured nine others in a Wednesday attack at a guesthouse that struck at the international community in the Afghan capital.
The attack began shortly before 6 am., and gun shots and explosions could be heard for more than an hour as they echoed along the narrow streets of the Shar-e-Naw area, an upscale district of larges homes, shops and businesses.
Afghan security officials said that three insurgents shot they way into the compound, and killed two security official and an Afghan civilian in addition to the UN workers. Afghan police arrived on the scene, and the insurgents then died in the ensuing gun battle.
All three insurgents were wearing suicide vests but were not able to detonate them, according to Afghan security officials. They were also armed with machine guns and grenades, and by the the time battle was over the guesthouse was seriously burned, with plumes of brown smoke wafting into the crisp early morning air.
The attack occurred in advance of the Nov. 7 runoff presidential election, which the U.N. is assisting with staff and other support. The Associated Press reported that a Taliban spokesman called to claim credit for the attack as part of a campaign against anyone involved in the presidential campaign.
"This is our first attack," said Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman.
Adrian Edwards, a U.N. spokesman in Kabul, said the private guesthouse had up to 20 U.N. workers staying there. He confirmed that six U.N. workers died, and nine were wounded. Some of the wounded were in very serious condition, Edwards said.
"This was clearly a very serious attack," Edwards said.
Abdul Ghafar Sayedzada, the chief of Kabul's Crime Investigation Department in Kabul, said the insurgents appeared to be targeting the foreigners.
In a separate attack Wednesday, a rocket landed in a garden of the Serena Hotel in the heart of Kabul. There were no injuries reported.