The Taliban launched a midday offensive assault on the United Nations headquarters in western Afghanistan Saturday. According to news reports, a car rigged with explosives crashed into the exterior gate, creating an opening through which four Taliban suicide bombers dressed as women and police officers attacked the main compound. Fortunately there were no casualties among UN staff.
Afghan forces and U.N. security guards at the compound repelled the insurgents. Two attackers, including a car bomber, blew themselves up at the entrance and another detonated his bomb just inside, while a fourth was shot and killed, police, government and U.N. officials said.
It was the highest profile attack on the United Nations since last year and will raise questions about security in a city that NATO officials believe could be among the first to see Afghan forces take responsibility for security from NATO troops.
"This was a complex attack with rockets, machine guns plus suicide bombers. The attack was repelled, they did not succeed," U.N. envoy to Afghanistan Staffan de Mistura told Reuters. ...
At least one of the attackers was dressed in all-encompassing burkas worn by many Afghan women and others were in local Afghan police uniforms.
Despite the presence of 150,000 foreign troops, violence from the Taliban is at its most intense since the war began in 2001.
Insurgents have stepped up attacks beyond their strongholds in the south and east of the country. More than 2,000 foreign troops have been killed since the war began, more than half of those in the past two years. Most were U.S. troops.
In southern Kandahar, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated explosives inside the city, killing one civilian and wounding two others, said Zelmay Ayoubi, a spokesman for the provincial governor.