Kabul: Attackers entered the Spanish Embassy in Kabul after a deadly car bombing in a diplomatic neighborhood of the Afghan capital, engaging in an hour-long shootout with security forces while staff hid in bunkers, the Spanish government said today in an account of the attack a day earlier.
Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, said four Afghan police officers and two others, including a foreigner, were killed in the attack that was claimed by the Taliban. Authorities in Madrid said two Spanish police officers were killed. The discrepancy could not immediately be clarified.
According to a statement issued today by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s office, a powerful car bomb exploded yesterday evening near the embassy, “causing serious damage to the premises” and killing Deputy-Inspector Jorge Garcia Tudela and Isidro Gabino Sanmartin Hernandez who were guarding the compound.
An hour-long shootout followed, the statement said. During the gun battle, three attackers entered the embassy compound while staff hid in two bunkers. They were released unharmed “after an intervention by Afghan and United States special forces units that lasted several hours,” the statement said. “All details of the attack are under investigation, although a statement by the attackers said that the embassy was not the intended target of their attack,” the Spanish government said.
The incident caused confusion in Spain, as Rajoy initially insisted to reporters yesterday on live TV just ahead of a campaign election rally that the embassy had not come under attack.
He also said the only Spaniard hurt was a slightly wounded police officer who had been taken to a hospital but was expected to recover. Rajoy later acknowledged during the rally that a policeman died, and hours afterward the government announced the death of the second officer.
There was no government confirmation until today that the embassy grounds had been penetrated.
Seven civilians and two policemen were wounded, Sediqqi said, adding that 12 foreign citizens were rescued by Afghan forces.
Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack in an email sent to media outlets.
The attack took place in the Kabul district of Shir Pur, home to many foreign embassies, guesthouses and the homes of high-ranking government officials. It took local security forces more than 10 hours to bring the area back under control.