KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — 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.
The 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 area.
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.
The 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.
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 in the past.
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