Just hours after President Barack Obama delivered his pre-dawn, prime time speech in Kabul marking the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death and reaffirming his commitment to fulfill the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, at least two major explosions rocked the capital, killing seven.
The Taliban claimed credit for the attacks, which began with a suicide car bomb that went off near Jalalabad Road at 6 a.m. and was followed by a much larger explosion two hours later. Taliban leaders told media that they targeted Green Village, a heavily fortified compound home to many westerners including U.S. Department of Defense contractors.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told The Wall Street Journal that the attack was a direct response to Obama’s visit.
“This delivers a message to President Obama that he is not welcome in Afghanistan,” Mujahid said. “When he is in Afghanistan, we want him to hear the sound of explosions. Afghanistan does not want his imposed strategy.”
At least 17 people were also wounded in the blasts, most of which were children on their way to school, according to the Interior Ministry.
In the aftermath of the explosions, well-trained contractors and private security forces reportedly defended the facility against insurgent rocket-propelled grenades. At this hour, the firefight is ongoing and it is unclear to what extent the compound has been compromised.
Two suicide attackers remain inside Green Village and are “resisting,” The Associated Press reports.
The U.S. Embassy posted an Emergency Advisory to U.S. Citizens warning of an ongoing attack in Kabul, telling U.S. citizens to take shelter immediately. This followed an earlier tweet from @USEmbassyKabul: “Duck and cover here at the embassy. Not a drill – avoid the area.”
The U.S. Embassy remains on lock down and has cancelled all appointments for Wednesday.
Green Village was also the target of protests following the burning of Qurans at a U.S. base in February but protesters were unable to breach the compound’s high walls.
ISAF has not released any casualty numbers, but the Kabul Police Chief, General Ayoub Salangi, tells ABC News that at least six people were killed including a Gurkha guard and an Afghan student.
TOLO News showed images of flames coming out of smoldering cars and Associated Press footage shows wounded men covered in blood being carried away from the attack site.
President Obama left Kabul roughly two hours before the attacks began and had cleared Afghan airspace by daylight.
Afghan Security Forces released a statement Wednesday saying that it led a capable and quick response in containing and then killing all attackers.
“This is another desperate attack by the Taliban, but again another noteworthy performance by Afghan Security Forces for taking the lead in putting down another desperate attack by insurgents,” General Carsten Jacobson, spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force said. “Another attack by the insurgency that resulted in the deaths of innocent Afghan civilians, with most of that being children from a nearby school.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.