A building in Kabul that is rumored to be used by the Central Intelligence Agency came under attack this evening. The attack is the latest in a string of high-profile strikes in the Afghan capital.
Gunfire and at least one explosion were heard near the complex, the former site of the Ariana Hotel, according to eyewitnesses in Kabul. The building is located in a high-security zone near the Presidential Palace and the US Embassy. The complex houses large Western contracting firms and is also thought to host a CIA office as well.
An Afghan security guard opened fire in all directions, sparking a shootout that lasted for nearly 10 minutes. The attacker killed a US citizen before being killed himself, the BBC reported. Two Afghan soldiers, a presidential guard, and “one CIA guard” are said to have been injured.
The motivation for the attack is unclear. The Taliban and allied terrorist groups are known to have conducted similar attacks by infiltrating or recruiting from security forces and contracting groups.
The Taliban have conducted two other major attacks in Kabul this month. On Sept. 20, a Taliban suicide bomber killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, the chief of the Afghan High Peace Council and former president of Afghanistan. And on Sept. 13, the Taliban launched a complex attack on the US Embassy and ISAF headquarters, as well as several police stations.
The Taliban and their allies have executed several high-profile attacks in the Afghan capital this year. Since the beginning of the year, the Taliban appear to have attempted to conduct at least one high-profile attack a month in Kabul. On Aug. 18, a suicide assault team killed eight people at the office of the British Council. On June 28, a suicide assault team stormed the Intercontinental Hotel and killed 13 people. On June 18, a suicide assault team attacked a police station near the Interior Ministry, killing eight people. On May 21, a suicide bomber killed six people in a hospital. On April 28, a suicide bomber penetrated security at the Ministry of Defense, killing two soldiers and wounding several senior officials. On February 24, a suicide bomber detonated outside of the Safi Landmark hotel, killing two people. And on January 28, a suicide assault team killed eight people at the Finest grocery.
The US has blamed the Haqqani Network, the al Qaeda-linked Taliban subgroup, for the Embassy and ISAF headquarters attack. In addition, US officials have implicated the Pakistani military and its Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate in sponsorship of the Haqqanis and aiding in that attack.
The public accusations by US officials have brought relations between the two countries, already strained over the past year due to US Predator strikes and the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, to an all-time low. US claims that Pakistan sponsors the Haqqanis have been met with denials from Pakistani officials.