HEART: Seven heavily armed Taliban suicide attackers struck the United States (US) consulate in the Afghan city of Herat before dawn on Friday, setting off two car bombs and sparking a shootout with US forces.
At least one Afghan guard was killed in the attack and 18 other people wounded, but US officials said there were no US casualties with all consulate staff safe and accounted for.
The US State Department said the attackers appeared to be wearing suicide vests and detonated a truck bomb that “extensively” damaged the front gate.
Afghan security officials said six attackers took part in the assault, detonating a minivan bomb and then a four-wheel drive vehicle, before engaging in a gunbattle with security forces.
The attack comes days after Pakistan said it would soon release its top Taliban prisoner, former military chief Abdul Ghani Baradar, in what Afghan officials hope can ignite peace talks.
The Taliban publicly refuse to negotiate with the Afghan government, branding Afghan President Hamid Karzai a US puppet, but opened a liaison office in Qatar in June billed as a step towards talks with the Americans on a possible prisoner swap.