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Attack on US Consulate Kills Afghan Guards, Taliban

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

Officials say the Taliban engaged in a gunfight and a suicide bombing just outside the consulate. International security forces returned fire and authorities say all the militants, some wearing suicide vests, were killed in the exchange.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman (Marie Harf) said the insurgents drove a truck to the front gate where they fired at security forces with assault rifles and possibly rocket propelled grenades. The truck exploded shortly afterward, 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 as U.S.-led foreign troops reduce their presence in Afghanistan ahead of a full withdrawal by the end of 2014.

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