Taliban attacks: Militant group claims responsibility for embassy assault in Kabul, prison raid in Pakistan

Dylan Stableford
The Envoy

The Taliban claimed responsibility for a series of coordinated attacks on and near several foreign embassies rocked Kabul on Sunday, as gunmen fired rocket-propelled grenades into the residences of Western diplomats near the so-called "green zone" of the Afghan capital.

The Taliban also were said to be behind a raid on a jail in northern Pakistan that freed hundreds of inmates and wounded at least four prison officials.

In Kabul, the Taliban said their "main targets were the German and British embassies and the headquarters of Afghanistan's NATO-led force," according to Reuters. Two rockets hit a British Embassy guard tower near Reuters' Kabul offices, the news service said. A supermarket near the German embassy was also struck.

According to the New York Times, gunfire and "several explosions broke out near the German and British embassies and a major NATO military camp, usually a heavily guarded area of the Afghan capital" just after 1:35 p.m. local time. Rockets landed near the British and Canadian embassies and World Bank office, the paper reported.

CNN reported that attackers took over a central Kabul hotel close to the presidential palace, United Nations office and several foreign embassies--and that the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message.

Kabul police said there were at least two other attacks in progress near the presidential palace and Parliament.

A NATO spokesman confirmed the attacks, according to the Times, in as many as seven locations.

U.S. army forces there were seen moving through the area, though the U.S. embassy did not sustain an attack, reports said. However, the embassy was in "lock-down mode," according to CBS News.

In September 2011, suicide bombers led a 19-hour attack on the U.S. embassy. A spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) told Al Jazeera that the ISAF similar tactics were used in Sunday's attacks.

In an interview with Bob Schieffer early Sunday, Se. John McCain blamed the attacks, in part, on the Obama administration's pull-out of troops from Afghanistan, saying that the U.S. military exit had emboldened the Taliban.

Meanwhile, in northern Pakistan, Taliban militants raided a prison in Bannu, CNN reported, freeing 384 inmates.

Four prison officials were wounded in the two-hour attack, CNN said. According to a Pakistani information minister, 21 of the 384 escaped prisoners were "high-profile" militants, and the raid was apparently designed to free a senior Taliban commander.

"This is beyond terrorism," Iftikhar Hussain, the information minister of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, told CNN. "Such an attack challenges the writ of the state."

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