Eight Taliban fighters waged a brazen offensive on the Afghan presidential palace on Tuesday, using false papers to sneak vehicles packed with explosives through checkpoints before jumping out and opening fire on the compound.
The Associated Press reports fighters in one of the vehicles got caught between two checkpoints and detonated their bomb. All of the insurgents died in the attack and one security guard was wounded by gunfire.
The daylight attack on the fortified compound, which also serves as the headquarters for the U.S. Embassy and NATO-led coalition troops, comes amid potential peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban, which have infuriated the Afghan government. It also followed an announcement last week that Afghan forces are now taking the lead in the country's security operations.
James Cunningham, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, condemned the attacks in a written statement early Tuesday and persisted in hopes for a diplomatic solution.
"All of the attackers were killed, without success in achieving their goals," Cunningham said. "This again demonstrates the futility of the Taliban's efforts to use violence and terror to achieve their aims."
He called on the Taliban to return to the negotiating table to discuss peace and reconciliation.
"We remain steadfast in supporting the Afghan government and people against the scourge of terrorism and the violence directed against them," he said.
The attack came a week after the Taliban raised a flag for the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," used during their pre-2001 rule of the country, over its delegation office in Doha, Qatar ahead of planned peace talks there. The Afghan government is still waiting for answers on how this happened.
Tuesday's attack a few hours after sunrise was witnessed by journalists waiting to cover an event in which Afghan President Hamid Karzai would speak with children about the peace efforts with the Taliban.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed the militant political group was responsible for the attack via an email statement to the AP. The eight bombers wielded hand grenades, a machine gun and rocket-propelled grenades and were able to reach "the most secure area of Kabul," he said. They were targeting the CIA headquarters, the palace and the Afghan Ministry of Defense.
These unconfirmed tweets depict the heavily fortified presidential palace in what appears to be the aftermath of the attack:
Smoke rose from the entrance gate of the presidential palace after taliban atack and car bomb explosion 25 June 2013 pic.twitter.com/qYzlVYLTCR
— Buda's Wagon (@BudasWagon) June 25, 2013
— The Mass Deception (@massdeception1) June 25, 2013
— Jarin (@Jarin_ya) June 25, 2013