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Taliban Claims Responsibility for 'Suicide Attack' at Presidential Palace in Afghanistan: 'We Brought Death to the Enemy

"Another explosion and smoke has covered us. We're around 20 reporters who had come to the palace to cover a Karzai's presser."

UPDATE 11:28 p.m. ET -- The U.S. Embassy in Kabul is advising caution following the apparent terror attack near the presidential palace in Afghanistan. All consulate appointments were canceled.

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/USEmbassyKabul/status/349365525127770113"]

A BBC correspondent says the assailants are still "embroiled in clashes with President Hamid Karzai's bodyguards, as well as security personnel from the nearby ministry of defence and a CIA station," BBC reports.

UPDATE 11:04 p.m. ET -- Via the Associated Press:

A series of explosions rocked one of the most secure areas of the Afghan capital early Tuesday in an attack outside the presidential palace.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the early-morning attack that came when reporters were gathering for a news conference called by President Hamid Karzai, who was expected to talk about ongoing efforts to open peace talks with the militant group.

They counted at least seven or eight explosions and then about 45 minutes of an on-and-off gunbattle.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid sent a text message saying the militants had "brought death to the enemy" with a suicide attack, but further details were not immediately available.

Police had no immediate comment.

The palace is in a large fortified area of downtown Kabul that also includes the U.S. Embassy and the headquarters for the NATO-led coalition forces and where access is heavily restricted.

Lt. Col. Frank Hoelzner, a spokesman for the NATO coalition, said he had no immediate information but that the headquarters had not been affected by the attack. The U.S. Embassy was not immediately available for comment.

The Taliban have indicated they are willing to open peace talks with the U.S. and the Afghanistan government and just last week opened an office in Qatar for possible negotiations.

But at the same time they have not renounced violence and attacks have continued across Afghanistan.

Multiple explosions and heavy gunfire rocked Kabul early Tuesday as gunmen reportedly attacked the Afghan presidential palace.

Details were scarce Monday night, but Reuters correspondent Mirwais Harooni reported via Twitter that he and about 20 other reporters were trapped in the Kabul palace while the battle raged around them. The attack reportedly occurred at around 6.30 a.m. (0200 GMT).

It was unclear whether President Hamid Karzai was inside the palace at the time of the attack.

Here's Harooni's first-hand account from "in front of" the palace:

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/MHarooni/status/349348180997046272"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/MHarooni/status/349349088422146049"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/MHarooni/status/349350626297253890"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/MHarooni/status/349351290687594496"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/MHarooni/status/349354219603632128"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/MHarooni/status/349360794581995520"]

 

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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