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A suicide car bomb has exploded in front of the German consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. At least six people have died and more than 100 have been wounded in the Taliban-claimed attack.
Taliban militants rammed an explosive laden vehicle into a wall surrounding the German consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif late Thursday night, killing at least six people and wounding scores more, Afghan officials said.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called a meeting of the ministry's crisis task force to discuss the situation.
Local residents reported hearing a large blast followed by gunfire. The explosion shattered the glass of nearby buildings, causing most of the injuries, provincial governor spokesman Munir said.
The German Foreign Office reported that fighting occured both "outside and on the premises of the German Consulate General," adding that Afghan and NATO troops were at the scene. They later declared the attack had finished.
Over 100 people were wounded in the blast, according to local Afghan doctors and officials. One attacker died in the explosion. A spokesman with the German Foreign office said all German consulate workers were "safe and unharmed."
At least 10 children were among those injured, Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwary wrote on Twitter, quoting a local doctor. Many of the injuries reportedly resulted from broken glass.
Journalist Tahir Qadiry posted a picture on Twitter of a list with the names of the 119 people who were wounded, noting that all were Afghans.
Saied Kamal, the police chief of Balkh province where the explosion took place, said there appeared to be only one attacker involved. Authorities later said they found a second attacker beneath the rubble. The German Foreign Office reported multiple attackers were "repelled" by security forces, but did not name a specific number.
German troops are on the ground and cordoned off the area around the consulate, local journalists told DW. This made it initially difficult to determine whether or not there have been any casualties on the German side.
The explosion occurred at around 23:05 local time (1835 UTC), the German military said, adding that a response team was sent to the area where over 900 German soldiers are stationed. A NATO spokesman reported that the consulate building suffered "massive damage" due to the blast.
Taliban claim attack
The US military said earlier this month that the airstrike "likely resulted in civilian casualties" and an investigation had been launched.
Afghan officials said 33 civilians, including 17 children, appeared to have been killed in the airstrike, while a further 26 civilians were wounded. Relatives of the victims protested outside the provincial governor's office following the attack.
US air support was summoned after Afghan special forces targeting Taliban leaders encountered heavy fire from militants. Three Afghan special forces members and two US advisers were killed in the fighting.
Tailban commanders Mullah Taqi and Ahmadyr were killed.
Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri blamed the Taliban for the civilian deaths, given that the meeting targeted was being held in a private home.
Germany has 938 troops in Afghanistan as part of NATO's Resolute Support mission. Most are based in Balkh province, the captial of which is Mazar-i-Sharif.
rs/bw (AFP, dpa, Reuters)