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2 Killed in Afghan Taliban Attack on US Consulate

Insurgents in the western Afghan town of Herat launched an attack on the U.S. consulate in the early Friday morning darkness, killing at least two Afghan guards and wounding nearly 20 people.

Officials say the Taliban staged a suicide car bombing and then engaged in a gunfight with security forces outside the consulate. Authorities say five of the militants wearing suicide vests were killed in an exchange of gunfire.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman (Marie Harf) said the insurgents drove a truck to the front gate where they attacked security forces with assault rifles and possibly rocket propelled grenades. The truck exploded shortly after the attack, causing extensive damage to the front gate. She said there were no American casualties.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying there were casualties to Afghan and U.S. forces.

Militant attacks have escalated in recent weeks, a surge that comes as U.S.-led foreign troops reduce their presence in Afghanistan ahead of a full withdrawal by the end of next year.

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