Kabul, Afghanistan-- Militants staged a suicide car bombing then
engaged in a gunfight with security forces near the American consulate
in the western Afghan city of Herat early Friday, officials said. An
Afghan translator was killed, while several other people, including
police, were wounded.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the
attack, which underscored the perilous security situation in
Afghanistan, where U.S.-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 occur with
troubling frequency in the north and west, which have been the more
peaceful areas in years past.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman in Kabul declined immediate comment.
attack began around 6 a.m. with the powerful explosion. The car bomber
detonated his explosives around 60 meters (66 yards) away from the
consulate compound, said Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi, the governor of Herat
province. Other militants then began firing on security forces in the
Gen. Rahmatullah Safi, chief of police in Herat province,
said an Afghan translator who apparently worked at the consulate died,
while two police and two private Afghan security guards at the U.S. post
were wounded. One police officer was caught under some rubble in the
area, and it was not immediately clear if he was killed.
An unclear number of civilians also were wounded, Safi said. The governor put the number at seven.
police chief, speaking around an hour after the attack started, said
the situation had been brought under control, but that security forces
were searching for any militants who might have escaped.
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 in the past.