Taliban attacks Afghan capital, U.S. Embassy

Updated at 8:28 a.m. Eastern.

A complicated attack involving multiple gunmen and apparent suicide bombers was underway in the heart of the Afghan capital Tuesday morning, and one of the primary targets was the U.S. Embassy.

Mohammed Zahir, a police official in Kabul, told the Associated Press that a group of gunmen were firing from a tall office building under construction near the U.S. Embassy and other Afghan government buildings.

CBS News' Fazul Rahim reports that sirens could be heard wailing from the embassy compound, and there were announcements carried over loudspeakers warning people to remain indoors. A military helicopter was seen landing briefly inside the compound and then departing, possibly carrying a number of VIPs to safety.

A source inside the U.S. Embassy told Rahim at least 3 rockets hit inside the compound, but embassy officials said there were no injuries within the compound walls.

A high ranking police official tells Rahim that five attackers armed with RPGs and machine guns - all of them wearing suicide vests - entered the building under construction and positioned themselves on the 10th floor.

Sediq Sediqqi, a senior police spokesman, tells CBS News two of the attackers and one police officer were killed in the fighting. The operation continued to apprehend or kill two or three other militants who were still holed up in the building.

An Afghan politician tells Rahim that a bomb exploded near the headquarters of the national border police, and two rockets landed near the parliament building. Various other Afghan ministry and police buildings were also targeted in the seemingly well-coordinated attack. At least two guards were wounded in the attack on the border police headquarters.

"We are following the events closely; we have confidence in the Afghan authorities' ability to deal with this situation," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Brussels.

Rasmussen said it was an attempt by the Taliban to derail the ongoing handover for security duties in Afghanistan to domestic security forces.

"We are witnessing that the Taliban try to test (the) transition but they can't stop it. Transition is on track and it will continue."

The Taliban's primary website ran a statement Tuesday morning saying "Operation Martyrdom" was underway in the Afghan capital.

Many attacks by the Taliban on the Afghan capital in recent months and years have followed a similar pattern; multiple attackers armed with automatic weapons and suicide vests attacking government targets.

  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the CBSNews.com foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.

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