Afghan Taliban attack in Kabul throws peace talks into further doubt

by
June 25, 2013

KABUL | Taliban militants attacked key buildings near Afghanistan’s presidential palace and the U.S. CIA headquarters in Kabul, a brazen assault that could derail attempts for peace talks to end 12 years of war.

The Taliban, who have said they are willing to take part in talks with the United States and Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s administration, said they launched the early morning assault, which triggered a 90-minute firefight.

A U.S. envoy was in Kabul on Tuesday to try to smooth the way forward for the stalled talks in the Gulf state of Qatar ahead of the pullout from Afghanistan of most of the NATO-led troops next year. He had been expected to meet reporters at the U.S. Embassy, but the conference was called off.

Karzai was also due to attend, but his whereabouts were not known. A palace official said he was safe.

A Reuters reporter at the palace said the attack began soon after 6.30 a.m. (10:00 p.m. EDT) when at least one man opened fire with an automatic rifle close to a gate to the palace in central Shash Darak district. The fighting was over before 8 a.m.

Reporters at the palace gates for security checks took cover when the firing started.

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