Afghan national security arrive near the entrance gate of the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan Tuesday, June 25, 2013. Suicide attackers blew up a car bomb and battled security forces outside the presidential palace Tuesday after infiltrating one of the most secure areas of the capital. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which came as reporters were gathering for a news event on Afghan youth at which President Hamid Karzai was expected to talk about ongoing efforts to open peace talks with the militant group. (AP photo/Rahmat Gul)
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Taliban attack at the gates of the Afghan presidential palace cast a cold light Tuesday on the course of a war that Washington remains committed to ending.
A week after NATO forces handed all security operations to the Afghans, local forces fought off the attackers on their own, killing all eight militants without calling in any coalition help. But the assault also made clear that the Taliban’s fighting spirit remains unbroken and demonstrated their ability to bluff their way past two checkpoints and storm a highly fortified zone of the capital.
The firefight took place in Ariana square, about 500 meters (yards) and several more checkpoints away from the presidential palace, where President Hamid Karzai was apparently preparing for a speech later in the morning.
The attack could complicate American efforts to try to get Karzai’s government to sit down with the Taliban to talk peace. U.S. President Barack Obama later talked with Karzai in a video conference that lasted more than an hour and covered issues including the peace process and the newly opened Taliban political office in the Gulf nation of Qatar, Karzai’s office said without giving further details.
The White House said Obama and Karzai affirmed that Afghanistan, not the U.S., must lead the reconciliation process. The leaders also said they still Login to read more