Suicide attack in Kabul, 10 dead: officials
KABUL – (VNS) A suicide bomber killed at least 10 people, nine of them foreigners, in an early-morning attack on a highway leading to the international airport in the Afghan capital on Tuesday, officials said.
It was the second suicide strike in the heavily fortified city in 10 days, renewing questions about stability as NATO accelerates a troop withdrawal and hands over to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.
An AFP photographer saw at least six bodies lying among the wreckage of a gutted minivan, and another vehicle destroyed by flames still burning in the middle of the highway, with debris flung all around.
An Afghan and a Western security official confirmed that nine foreigners were killed in the attack, which police confirmed was a suicide car bomb.
"The foreigners were from a private company working at the airport," the Afghan official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
He said an Afghan was also among the dead, and two Afghan policemen were wounded.
The Western official said two Afghans were killed, putting the overall toll at 11. Kabul police chief Mohammad Ayoub Salangi told AFP it was a suicide attack next to a minivan, carrying foreigners.
A spokesman for NATO's US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed an explosion near the airport, but said there was no current report of casualties among its personnel.
NATO, which is helping the Afghan government fight a Taliban-led insurgency now in its 11th year, is gradually withdrawing its 112,600 remaining troops. The United States, which leads the force, has 77,000 US troops in the country. The attack took place on the eight-lane highway in front of a wedding hall sometime after 6:30 am (0200 GMT).
Witnesses said there was smoke spewing into the sky and a heavy police deployment at the scene of the attack, contributing to a major traffic snarl-up on the busy road.
On September 8, a suicide bomber killed at least six people, most of them children, outside ISAF headquarters in Kabul in an attack that the Taliban claimed targeted the CIA to avenge US moves to blacklist its Haqqani network as a terrorist organisation.
Tuesday's attack came after a devastating few days for NATO in which six of its soldiers were shot dead by suspected Afgan police, the Taliban destroyed six US fighter jets in an unprecedented assault of a major base in the south and one of its air strikes killed eight Afghan women.
NATO insists the insurgency in Afghanistan is on the back foot with Afghan forces taking the lead over 75 per cent of the population, as part of the phased departure of most Western troops. AFP