Gunmen attack CIA building in Afghanistan capital

KABUL, Afghanistan — Gunfire erupted Sunday night at a facility that has been used by the CIA in Kabul, Afghan officials said, and at least two Afghan army personnel were reported injured.

The incident, which was still being investigated, occurred near the presidential palace in the Afghan capital at the former Ariana Hotel, a facility that the CIA took over soon after the start of the Afghan war in 2001.

No U.S. or international personnel were immediately reported injured.

A U.S. official confirmed that an attack occurred against a facility used by U.S. officials in Kabul. The situation was fluid and the investigation was ongoing, said the official, who wasn't authorized to be quoted by name.

Gunfire was heard at the facility at about 9:30 p.m., Afghan officials said, but it did not continue for long. The International Security Assistance Force, the U.S.-led military coalition, did not have immediate comment.

The hotel is locally said to be a major CIA facility. It is fortress-like and heavily protected, located inside a security perimeter that includes the presidential palace and the Afghan Defense Ministry.

While the circumstances of Sunday's incident were unclear, insurgents battling Afghan and U.S.-led international forces in Afghanistan have staged a series of stunning attacks inside Kabul in recent months.

Last week, a suicide bomber assassinated former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, the government's top peace broker, at his home near the U.S. Embassy. A week earlier, insurgents waged a 20-hour rifle and grenade attack against the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters, leaving at least seven Afghans dead.

Before the CIA took over the formerly government-owned Ariana Hotel, Taliban fighters used it "as an R&R spot for troops rotating back from the front line" where they were fighting Northern Alliance forces during the Afghan civil war, journalist Sean Naylor wrote in his 2005 book, "Not a Good Day to Die." In retaliation, Northern Alliance forces dropped a bomb on the hotel in 1997, Naylor wrote.

(Zohori is a McClatchy special correspondent in Afghanistan. Jonathan S. Landay contributed from Washington.)