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RPGs, Gunfire 'Raining Down' On Diplomatic District In Kabul

Attackers set off at least three explosions in the center of Kabul's diplomatic district today and were "raining down rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons fire across both the U.S. embassy compound" and the headquarters of the international security force, NPR's Quil Lawrence reports from the Afghan capital.

The BBC says "gunmen are holed up in a partly-built high-rise building nearby, exchanging sporadic gunfire with police."

A spokesman for the Taliban has contacted the news media to claim responsibility.

The BBC adds that:

"Initial reports suggest at least four suicide bombers have been involved, with one reportedly detonating a suicide vest in a taxi.

"Casualty figures remain unclear. Reports say four badly wounded people have been taken to two hospitals in the area. A Press TV cameraman was said to have been injured as the broadcaster's Kabul office was hit."

Reuters reports that "A U.S. embassy spokesmen said all staff had taken shelter. 'Right now the embassy is in duck and cover,' U.S. embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall said. 'We're still assessing the situation.' "

The Guardian is live-blogging the story here.

Update at 11:15 a.m. ET. On Capitol Hill this morning, CIA Director David Petraeus "said all embassy personnel were accounted for and no one was injured," The Associated Press reports. It adds that "the attack was launched by a 'handful of attackers, five or so, apparently armed with suicide vests' and rocket-propelled grenades, according to Petraeus, who said he spoke to the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, earlier Tuesday."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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