KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban attacked a U.S. Consulate in western Afghanistan with car bombs and guns on Friday, killing at least four Afghans but failing to enter the compound or hurt any Americans.
The attack in the city of Herat underscored concerns about an insurgency that shows no signs of letting up as U.S.-led troops reduce their presence ahead of a full withdrawal next year.
Within hours of the assault, the U.S. temporarily evacuated many of its consular personnel to the embassy in Kabul, 650 kilometers (400 miles) to the east.
Herat lies near Afghanistan's border with Iran and is considered one of the safer cities in the country, with a strong Iranian influence. Friday's attack highlighted the Taliban's reach: The militants once concentrated their activities in the east and the south, but in recent years have demonstrated an ability to strike with more frequency in the once-peaceful north and west.
In a phone call, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi took responsibility for the assault.
An interpreter and three members of the Afghan security forces were killed, said U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf.
Seven militants, including two drivers of explosives-laden vehicles, also died, according to Gen. Rahmatullah Safi, Herat province's chief of police.
At least 17 people were wounded, said Herat hospital official Sayednaim Alemi.
The attack began about 6 a.m. when militants in an SUV and a van set off their explosives while others on foot fired on Afghan security forces guarding the Consulate, Safi said.
He said the militants were not able to breach the compound, where Americans live and work.
Harf said the attackers fired rocket propelled grenades and that the compound's front gate was extensively damaged in one of the bombings.
Footage broadcast on Afghanistan's Tolo television network showed Afghan police dragging away a badly bloodied man from the scene. Rubble and twisted pieces of metal lay strewn in a seemingly wide area near the consulate.