A suicide car bomber has attacked a NATO convoy in the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing 15 people including coalition soldiers. The Islamist militant group Hizb-e-Islami has claimed responsibility for the attack.
A suicide bomber in a car targeted vehicles carrying foreign forces in Kabul on Thursday, according to police. Killed were two American soldiers, four civilian contractors aand nine Afghans, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force announced in a statement.
The powerful blast took place at about 8 a.m. (0330 GMT) and also wounded 40 people, including children going to school according to the Afghan Health Ministry.
Kabul provincial police spokesman Hashmad Stanakzi said the suicide bomber attacked the convoy with a car packed with explosives. "The explosion was very big. It set the nearby buildings on fire," Stanakzi said, adding that the casualty numbers included mostly civilians.
Commander Bill Speaks, a spokesman for the US Defense Secretary, confirmed that the two soldiers from the NATO military coalition who were killed in the bombing were Americans. He would not comment on the nationalities of the civilian contractors.
Local television showed a car burning next to a destroyed armored vehicle with rubble and vehicle parts spread around the area.
Responsibility for the attack was claimed by Hizb-e-Islami (Islamic Party), an insurgent group allied with the Taliban. The political wing of the group was founded by warlord and former Afghan prime minister Gubuddin Hekmatyar. The militia has thousands of fighters and followers across Afghanistan's north and east.
Thursday's violence was the first major attack in Kabul since March 9, when a suicide bomber on a bicycle killed nine people outside the Defense Ministry during a visit from US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack, saying it was the work of "terrorists and enemies of Afghanistan's peace."
hc/dr (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)