Afghan security personnel investigate the site of a suicide car bombing and a gunfight near the U.S. consulate in Herat Province, west of Kabul, Afghanistan on Sept. 13, 2013.
(Photo: Hoshang Hashimi, AP)
(USATODAY.com) - Taliban militants staged a suicide car bombing outside the United States consulate in the western Afghan city of Herat early Friday, killing two Afghan police and a security guard.
U.S. and Afghan security forces then fought off an attack by insurgents. No Americans were injured in the attack and the U.S. consulate said its staff "performed superbly."
The Taliban subsequently claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to the Associated Press.
A statement posted on the ISAF: Nato forces in Afghanistan Facebook page from U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham said: "We are grateful for the quick response of the Afghan and ISAF security forces who secured the facility and kept our personnel safe."
State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told said in a statement that the assault began around 5:30 a.m., when "a truck carrying attackers drove to the front gate, and attackers - possibly firing rocket propelled grenades and assault rifles - started firing at Afghan forces and security guards on the exterior of the gates. Shortly after, the entire truck exploded, extensively damaging the front gate."
"Afghan civilians and Afghans on contract to the consulate were also killed or injured," Ambassador Cunningham said, without giving any figures.
Robert Hilton, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, said that "all consulate personnel are safe and accounted for."
Herat lies near Afghanistan's border with Iran and is considered one of the better developed and safer cities in the country, with a strong Iranian influence. Most of the violence in Afghanistan has been concentrated in the east and the south.
Contributing: Associated Press; Kim Hjelmgaard reported from London