KABUL — Suicide attackers blew up a car bomb and battled security forces outside Afghanistan’s presidential palace Tuesday after infiltrating one of the most secure areas of the capital. The army said the attackers were killed but knew of no other deaths.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack that 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.
The palace is in a large fortified area of downtown Kabul that also includes the US Embassy and the headquarters for the NATO-led coalition forces and where access is heavily restricted. It houses Karzai’s residence but it was not immediately clear whether the president was in the building at the time and his spokesman did not answer his phone.
Gunfire started around 6:30 a.m. inside a heavily guarded area near the east gate leading to the palace, next to the Afghan Ministry of Defense and the former Ariana Hotel, which former US intelligence officials have confirmed is used by the CIA.
A car bomb then exploded. About 20 journalists took cover behind a religious shrine, pulling a schoolboy off the street who had been caught in the open on his way to school.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility, saying in a text message the militants had ‘‘brought death to the enemy’’ with a suicide attack.