KABUL, Afghanistan — Militants carried out a brazen attack on the U.S. Consulate in the western Afghan city of Herat early Friday, killing two policemen and injuring dozens of other people, including civilians, according to local officials.
No Americans were believed to be among those hurt. The attackers were all reported to have been killed.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which started just before sunrise with a suicide car bombing approximately 60 yards from the consulate entrance, followed by gunfire from militants attempting to enter the compound.
The gun battle between militants and security forces lasted about two hours, said Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi, governor of Herat province.
The attackers may have managed to enter the first security ring of the diplomatic compound, but there was no damage to the consulate building, Wahidi said. In a statement it posted on Twitter, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said that “all Consulate personnel are safe and accounted for.”
All five of the assailants were killed by Afghan and U.S. security forces, Wahidi said.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed that his group killed 13 foreigners and two Afghan soldiers, and wounded many more. The group frequently exaggerates its claims or accepts responsibility for assaults it didn't carry out.
The Taliban has been stepping up its attacks before foreign combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014. The Taliban hopes through such attacks to hasten the departure of foreign forces, allowing it to boast of success in protecting national sovereignty and to strengthen its hand against rivals in the post-2014 political landscape.
The latest attack follows an assault on the U.S. military's Torkham base in eastern Afghanistan this month, which sparked a lengthy gun battle that saw three insurgents killed.
The consular attack took place in an area that has been relatively peaceful, underscoring the challenge for Afghan security forces as they take over responsibility from foreign troops.
Video aired by the local Tolo television network showed Afghan police officers dragging a person away from the scene strewn with blood as rubble and mangled bits of debris lay around the consulate. It wasn’t immediately clear who the victim was or his medical condition.
Special correspondent Baktash reported from Kabul and Times staff writer Magnier from New Delhi.