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Multiple attacks target Western embassies in Kabul

GRAPHIC WARNING: This post contains graphic images which some viewers may find disturbing. 

Parwiz / Reuters

An Afghan National Army soldier keeps watch near the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) as a NATO helicopter flies over the site of an attack in Jalalabad province April 15. Gunmen launched multiple attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday, assaulting Western embassies in the heavily guarded, central diplomatic area and at the parliament in the west, witnesses and officials said. Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the assault, one of the boldest on the capital since U.S.-backed Afghan forces removed the group from power in 2001.

"These attacks are the beginning of the spring offensive and we had planned them for months," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters.

The U.S. Embassy was under lockdown but all staff there are safe, according to spokesman Gavin Sundwall. "The U.S. Embassy is currently in lockdown, following our standard operating procedures after hearing explosions and gunfire in the area," he said.

-- Reported by Sohel Uddin, NBC News in Kabul, and Alastair Jamieson, msnbc.com

Ahmad Jamshid / AP

A NATO soldier runs to the scene of a attack by Taliban militants in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 15.

Noorullah Shirzada / AFP - Getty Images

An Afghan policeman runs at the scene of a suicide bomb attack outside the airport in Jalalabad on April 15. Suicide bombers struck across Afghanistan in coordinated attacks, with explosions and gunfire rocking the diplomatic enclave in the capital as militants took over buildings and tried to enter parliament. Outside the capital, attackers also targeted government buildings in Logar province, the airport in Jalalabad, and a police facility in the town of Gardez in Paktya province.