Afghanistan: Taliban attack US consulate in Herat with suicide bomb, gunfire

At least two security personnel killed, as well as five attackers, in early-morning attack

Several people died when Taliban militants staged a suicide car bombing and fired at security forces near the US consulate in the western Afghan city of Herat early on Friday.

Police said two Afghan security forces were killed, as were five of the attackers, while the US said all its consulate personnel were safe. Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Taliban, claimed responsibility on behalf of the militant group, which has often staged combined car bomb and gun attacks.

The attack began around 6am with the powerful blast. The car bomber detonated his explosives about 70 yards from the consulate compound, said Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi, the governor of Herat province. Other militants then began firing on security forces.

Footage broadcast on Afghanistan’s Tolo television network showed Afghan police dragging a badly bloodied person from the scene. It was unclear if he was dead or who he was. Rubble and twisted pieces of metal lay strewn in a seemingly wide area near the consulate, the footage showed.

General Rahmatullah Safi, chief of police in Herat province, initially said an Afghan translator who apparently worked for the consulate died in the attack, but later said that victim was more likely a private security guard working at the compound.

An Afghan police officer was also killed, while an unclear number of police, guards and civilians were wounded.

Safi said four militants were killed during the assault, as was the suicide car bomber, but the situation was under control about an hour after the start of the attack.

Robert Hilton, a US embassy spokesman, said “all consulate personnel are safe and accounted for”.

The attack underscored the perilous security situation in Afghanistan, where US-led troops are reducing their presence ahead of a full withdrawal planned for next year. The insurgent strikes are no longer concentrated in the country’s south and east, but now also occur frequently in the north and west, previously more peaceful.

Friday’s assault followed a day and a half of exceptional joy in Afghanistan, when people of all backgrounds were celebrating their nation’s first international soccer championship win.

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