Taliban Attack UN Guesthouse in Kabul, Killing 9

Militants in Afghanistan have killed at least six foreign U.N. workers and three Afghans during an attack on an international guesthouse in the capital, Kabul. One American is among those dead.

Local officials said three gunmen wearing suicide vests and disguised as police stormed the compound around dawn Wednesday.  They battled security forces for two hours before they either detonated their explosives or were shot dead. At least two Afghan security guards and a civilian died in the assault.

A Taliban spokesman later took credit for the attack, calling it a “first step” to disrupt next month’s presidential runoff election.

Militants Wednesday also fired rockets at a luxury hotel and the presidential palace in the capital, without causing casualties.

The U.N. chief in Afghanistan condemned the attack and said it would not deter the organization from continuing its work.   The U.S. embassy released a statement saying that attacking civilian workers will not lessen U.S. support for the Afghan people and their election process.

The assault comes a day after a series of bomb blasts in southern Afghanistan killed eight Americans, making October the deadliest month for U.S. troops in the eight year war.

On Monday, three helicopter crashes killed 11 U.S. troops and three American drug enforcement agents.

Officials said none of the crashes involved enemy fire, despite Taliban claims to have shot down one of the aircraft.

On Wednesday, NATO officials said poor visibility was to blame for the deadliest crash, which killed 10 Americans. A NATO statement said thick dust stirred-up during takeoff obscured the crew’s vision.  It said when they tried to correct the aircraft’s movement, the helicopter struck a nearby structure.  The statement said militants never fired at the aircraft during the incident.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, Reuters and AFP