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Attack On U.S. Embassy In Damascus

Syrian security forces killed three attackers, the government said, after gunmen apparently blew up a car outside the U.S. Embassy and exchanged fire with Syrian guards on Tuesday in a bold attack on Damascus' diplomatic neighborhood.

There are no reports of U.S. casualties; China says one of its diplomats was "slightly injured" by a stray bullet.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua says the diplomat, who was treated at a nearby hospital, was struck by a stray bullet while standing on top of the Chinese Embassy building, which is near the U.S. Embassy.

The Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police, said a fourth attacker was wounded in the incident, which it called a "terrorist attack." The report, carried on state-run television, said an investigation is under way.

In Washington, a U.S. State Department spokesman confirmed the attack on the American embassy by "unknown assailants" and said the event appears to be over.

"Local authorities have responded and are on the scene," said spokesman Kurtis Cooper said. He said he had no further information.

An embassy official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the "incident happened in the perimeter of the embassy." He said the embassy had no further details, adding "the embassy depends on Syrian security personnel to deal with the situation."

The official would not say whether there was any damage or casualties in the compound.

A Syrian who works at the U.S. Embassy said there were no American casualities.

A witness says two gunmen stopped a car on the street in front of the embassy just after 10 a.m., got out of the car, shot at the Syrian sentries in front of the building's entrance and then detonated the car.

The witness says security personnel shot back, and security forces in the area quickly rushed to the scene, said the witness who was in the area. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

A Syrian employee who works at the American Embassy said gunfire and explosions could be heard just after 10 a.m., and the shootings lasted about 20 minutes.

An official at the Iraqi Embassy, which is located across the street from the American Embassy, said he saw smoke coming from the building. But the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said the whole area is surrounded by police and Iraqi Embassy workers are not allowed to leave the building.

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