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Taliban Hits CIA Office In Kabul

Attackers, 3 Guards Killed; U.S. Renews Call for Talks

Kabul — Insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades opened fire on the Kabul offices of the CIA early yesterday in a coordinated attack in one of the capital’s most heavily fortified neighborhoods, which is also home to Afghanistan’s presidential place and the main headquarters for the U.S.-led international military coalition.

There was no word on damages to the CIA offices or casualties to its guard force, and it was uncertain whether the CIA had been the main target of the attack. The Taliban, claiming responsibility for the attack, said in a statement that the CIA building had been one of its primary objectives, but the presidential palace is also nearby. Three presidential guards died in the attack.

Reporters who were waiting to enter the presidential palace when the attack took place at 6:30 a.m. said the attackers fired at the CIA offices, and smoke could be seen rising from the building, a former hotel, from miles away.

Statements issued by Afghan ministries said no civilians were killed. In addition to the three palace guards who died, several were slightly wounded. Police said there were four or five attackers and that all were killed.

A spokesman for Hamid Karzai said the Afghan president was never in serious danger and was unhurt.

It was the latest in a string of high-profile attacks in the city over the last few weeks, including one on the military side of the international airport and another just outside the country’s Supreme Court building. It came as U.S. diplomats and Afghan leaders tried to figure out how get the stalled negotiations with the Taliban over peace talks in Doha, Qatar, back on track.

Ambassador James Dobbins, the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, had arrived in Kabul from Doha to meet with Karzai.

Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, a spokesman for the Afghan High Peace Council, which likely would represent Afghanistan in any peace talks, said that such acts could undermine the chances of talks.

The U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, James Cunningham, issued a statement condemning the attack and praising the rapid reaction of the Afghan security forces in ending it. But he also included an overture to the Taliban.

“All of the attackers were killed, without success in achieving their goals,” he wrote. “This again demonstrates the futility of the Taliban’s efforts to use violence and terror to achieve their aims. We again call on the Taliban to come to the table to talk to the Afghanistan government about peace and reconciliation.”

The attack lasted for more than an hour.