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Explosions, gunfire outside presidential palace in Kabul; Taliban claim responsibility

The Taliban say they have hit one of the most secure areas of the Afghan capital with a suicide attack, as a series of explosion rocked the gate leading into the presidential palace.

Smoke rose from the eastern gate of the palace early Tuesday after more than a half dozen explosions and at least 45 minutes of on-and-off small arms fire.

The Taliban sent a quick text-message statement saying "we brought death to the enemy."

The palace is in a large fortified area of downtown Kabul that also includes the U.S. Embassy and the headquarters for the NATO-led coalition forces.

Reporters gathering for an event with President Hamid Karzai counted at least seven or eight explosions starting about 6:30 a.m.

Police had no immediate comment.