KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban suicide bombers attacked the gates of the Afghan intelligence agency Wednesday, killing one person and wounding dozens in a blast that shredded nearby cars and shattered storefront windows three blocks away.
The brazen midday attack highlighted ongoing violence in Afghanistan and the determination of the insurgency to continue fighting, even as President Hamid Karzai and the U.S. negotiate for a quicker pullout of American forces.
A minivan drove into a gate of the intelligence agency compound in the capital at noon and exploded in a blast that was heard throughout downtown.
A second minivan pulled up, and five attackers wearing explosive vests jumped out and tried to storm the gate, police said.
Security forces killed the five terrorists and defused explosives found in the second van, police said in a statement.
The assault was the second attack targeting the intelligence agency in two months.
On Dec. 6, a Taliban suicide bomber posing as a peace messenger blew himself up while meeting with Afghan intelligence chief Asadullah Khalid inside a Kabul residence. Mr. Khalid has been hospitalized in the United States with serious wounds since then.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the latest assault in a text message sent to The Associated Press.
The Taliban insurgency regularly targets Afghan army and police, but attacks against the intelligence agency show the group’s ability to strike even those who are supposedly closely monitoring their activities.
One intelligence service guard was killed in the blast, said agency spokesman Shafiqullah Tahiri. He declined to provide any information on guards who were wounded.
Mohammad Zahir, the chief of the Kabul police investigation unit, said at least 30 people suffered injuries. Mr. Tahiri added that some of those injuries were minor, but four of the wounded were in critical condition.
The attack comes less than a week after Mr. Karzai returned from a trip to Washington where he met with President Obama and pushed the United States to get its troops out of Afghan villages.
During the visit, both Mr. Obama and Mr. Karazi seemed ready to consider a much smaller American force in Afghanistan after 2014 than had previously been envisioned.
Mr. Karzai said on his return to Kabul that Afghanistan would be safer after the U.S. troops leave, but Wednesday’s attack was a stark reminder that Afghan forces are as much a target as foreign troops.