In Prep for US Embassy Siege, Militants Wore Burkas

Siege is over, nearly 21 hours after it began

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 14, 2011 6:54 AM CDT | Updated Sep 14, 2011 7:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – This morning—almost 21 hours after the attack on the US embassy and other buildings in Kabul began—the last of the six attackers have been killed and the area is locked down. But questions are being raised about why it took so long to secure the high-rise building used by the assailants as a staging area, the Los Angeles Times notes. At least seven Afghans died in the attack, and 17 were hurt. Officials believe the insurgents disguised themselves as women in order to get weapons into the building, which is under construction, the Washington Post adds.

"We strongly believe they used burkas," which were found inside the van alongside the assailants' weapons, "to reach this place," a police spokesperson says. "The police respect the women too much." Though the attack raises concerns about Kabul's vulnerability and security shortcomings as US forces start withdrawing from Afghanistan, US Ambassador Ryan Crocker downplayed it, calling it simply "harassment." He continues, "If this is the best they can do, I find their lack of ability and capacity and the ability of Afghan forces to respond to it, actually encouraging." Crocker tells the New York Times today that the Pakistan-based Haqqani group appeared to be behind the assault.

Afghan medics take finger prints of one of the six Taliban militants killed during a gun battle with Afghan and NATO forces in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2011.
Afghan medics take finger prints of one of the six Taliban militants killed during a gun battle with Afghan and NATO forces in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2011.   (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
An Afghan police officer passes by a shattered wall as he visits the building which was occupied by Taliban militants in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2011.
An Afghan police officer passes by a shattered wall as he visits the building which was occupied by Taliban militants in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2011.   (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Afghan police forces carry the dead body of one of the six Taliban militants killed during a gun battle with Afghan and NATO forces in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2011.
Afghan police forces carry the dead body of one of the six Taliban militants killed during a gun battle with Afghan and NATO forces in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2011.   (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Afghan military personnel watch two dead bodies killed during a gun battle with Afghan and NATO forces in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2011.
Afghan military personnel watch two dead bodies killed during a gun battle with Afghan and NATO forces in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2011.   (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Afghan security forces are seen near the building which was occupied by militants in Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday Sept. 14, 2011.
Afghan security forces are seen near the building which was occupied by militants in Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday Sept. 14, 2011.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
An Afghan police officer holds a hand grenade in the building which was occupied by Taliban militants in Kabul, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011.
An Afghan police officer holds a hand grenade in the building which was occupied by Taliban militants in Kabul, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011.   (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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