Explosions heard near Afghan presidential palace

June 25, 2013 3:45:18 AM PDT
Taliban militants with false papers and military-style uniforms bluffed their way through two checkpoints on their way to Afghanistan's presidential palace Tuesday before jumping out of their explosives-packed vehicle and opening fire on security personnel, according to Afghan officials and eyewitness accounts

Another carload of Taliban fighters got stuck between two checkpoints and detonated their own car bomb.

The Taliban said all eight of its fighters died in the attack. Authorities reported one security guard wounded in the gunfight and had no word on casualties from the vehicle explosion.

The well-planned daylight assault in a highly fortified zone of the capital is a brazen challenge to Kabul's authority only a week after NATO formally handed over security for the entirety of the country to Afghan forces.

The gunbattle was witnessed by a group of journalists who were waiting to enter the palace grounds 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 Taliban.

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