HERAT, Afghanistan, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- At least five people were killed and 23 others injured early Friday morning as two car bombs and ensuing firing hit the U.S. consulate in Herat city, the provincial capital of western Afghan province of Herat, a local security source said.
"Militants numbered four or five armed with heavy weapons and suicide vests stormed the consulate building at around 0515 local time. They initially detonated two car bombs and tried to enter to the facility and take control of the building. Sporadic firing still could be heard later Friday morning there," the source told Xinhua but declined to be named.
In addition, the Taliban insurgent group has claimed the responsibility for the incident. Taliban spokesman Zabiullha Mujahid told local media that the militants launched the attack, saying five Taliban fighters were involved in the attack.
No foreign member of the consulate was hurt in the incident, he said. "All U.S. diplomats are safe in the building and no foreign staff of the mission was hurt in the attack," the source said.
The killed included one civilian, two attackers, two local security guards and 18 civilian passers-by, two guards and three policemen were wounded in the incident so far in the city 640 km west of Kabul.
"The number of the casualties might go up," he said.
The blast also damaged the compound and several other nearby houses. Local TV channels showed the gate and supportive walls of the facility were destroyed by the force of the blasts.
The explosions have sent a thick black smoke above the site.
The Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant since the militant group launched annual rebel offensive in April against Afghan government forces and about 98,000 NATO-led troops stationed in the country.
The Taliban urged civilians to stay away from official gatherings, military convoys and centers regarded as the legitimate targets by militants besides warning people not to support the government and foreign troops.