Attack on U.S. Consulate in western Afghanistan kills at least two

Attack on U.S. Consulate in western Afghanistan kills at least two
Afghanistan security forces take up a position after an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Herat early Friday. (Aref Karimi / AFP-Getty Images)

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.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which started with the detonation of a suicide car bomb approximately 60 yards from the consulate entrance, followed by gunfire from militants attempting to enter the compound. There were no immediate reports of American casualties.

The gun battle between the militants and security forces lasted about two hours, said Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi, governor of Herat province. Four assailants were killed by Afghan and U.S. security forces, with one or two still unaccounted for, Wahidi said.

The attackers may have managed to enter the first ring of the diplomatic  compound, but the situation was under control and there was no damage to the consulate building, he said.


[Updated 10:07 p.m. Sept. 12: A Taliban spokesman said his group killed 13 foreigners and two Afghan soldiers and wounded many more. The group frequently exaggerates its claims or takes responsibility for attacks it didn't initiate.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul tweeted that all consular personnel were safe.


Friday's strike, which started about 5:30 a.m., is the latest to rock Afghanistan as foreign combat troops prepare to withdraw at 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.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a brief phone call to The Times that his group claimed responsibility for the attack.

It follows a Taliban 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 latest attack in a part of the country that has traditionally been relatively peaceful underscores the growing challenge for Afghan security forces as they take over greater 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 Magnier reported from New Delhi.