KABUL, Afghanistan — Insurgents fired rockets and assault rifles in the direction of the U.S. Embassy, NATO headquarters and other official buildings Tuesday as gunfire and explosions rocked the heart of the Afghan capital. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
The surge of violence was a stark reminder of the instability that continues to plague Afghanistan nearly a decade after the U.S. invasion that ousted the Taliban in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States.
Police said the gunmen were firing from a tall office building that is under construction at Kabul's Abdul Haq square, which is about 300 yards (meters) from the U.S. Embassy. American officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
The American Embassy is on the edge of the Wazir Akbar Khan area, and gunfire and explosions rocked the area, which is home to a number of other foreign missions.
At least one rocket landed on a building housing privately owned Tolo TV and another near a minivan carrying school children. At least four Afghans were wounded, according to Associated Press reporters on the scene.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said a number of suicide bombers were attacking Afghan and foreign soldiers at the square. He claimed in a text message that suicide bombers using assault rifles were attacking the offices of the Afghan intelligence service.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the attacks were an attempt to derail plans to hand over security resposibility to Afghan forces in Afghanistan, but would not succeed.
"We are following the events closely; we have confidence in the Afghan authorities' ability to deal with this situation," Rasmussen told reporters in Brussels. "We are witnessing that the Taliban try to test (the) transition but they can't stop it. Transition is on track and it will continue."
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.