December 25, 2013 - 14:57 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Two Taliban rockets landed inside the U.S. embassy compound in Kabul early on Wednesday, causing no casualties but underlining Afghanistan's continuing security problems as many foreigners in the capital marked Christmas Day, AFP reports.
Taliban militants, who have been fighting the U.S.-backed government since being ousted from power in 2001, claimed responsibility for the attack, which included at least one other strike in the city.
Rocket attacks in Kabul have been rare in recent years, but the insurgents have vowed to step up pressure on the U.S. and Afghan authorities before next year's presidential election in April and the withdrawal of U.S.-led NATO combat forces.
"At approximately 6:40 local time in Kabul, approximately two rounds of indirect fire impacted the U.S. Embassy compound," a statement from the embassy said. "All Americans are accounted for and no injuries were sustained. The Embassy continues to investigate the attack."
The mortar rockets sent U.S. diplomats rushing for shelter as the heavily-fortified embassy in the city centre sounded its emergency sirens and loudspeakers broadcast a "duck and cover" alarm warning.
Another rocket landed near a hill where former kings and members of the old royal family are buried in a large mausoleum, a spokesman for the National Directorate of Security told AFP.
"One impacted near Maranjan hill, about one mile (1.6 kilometers) from the presidential palace. There are no reported casualties," Lutfullah Mashal said.
In a text message to AFP, the Taliban claimed the rockets caused heavy casualties, but the insurgents regularly make exaggerated claims after attacks.
"Today at around 6am four rockets were fired at the U.S. embassy in Kabul. All hit the target (causing) heavy casualties," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in the message.
Previous Taliban mortar attacks on Kabul have lacked accuracy, and the Christmas Day attacks will raise concerns that the militants have improved their ability to launch and direct the rockets