Taliban gunmen launched a brazen assault in Kabul on Tuesday, breaking through several layers of security and storming the presidential palace. The fire-fight left eight of the insurgents and three government guards dead. The BBC's Bilal Sarwary was among a group of journalists who were approaching the palace gates when the attack began.
"Suddenly we heard gunfire followed by huge sounds of explosions," Sarwary says.
He and his colleagues found an 8-year-old school boy near the palace gates.
"He was also stuck in the attack on his way to school. For the next 40 minutes or so we saw presidential guards returning fire, American personnel as well as the Afghans there."
The Taliban assault comes just a week after the group opened an office in Qatar with the stated intention of beginning peace talks.
Davood Moradian, who served for five years as an adviser to President Hamid Karzai, sees the opening of that Taliban office in Doha as evidence of an exhausted Washington, desperate to cut and run. He sees the Karzai government as equally exhausted, and unable to negotiate a peace deal.