Eyewitnesses and Afghan officials said a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-packed car near a NATO military convoy on the main highway leading to Kabul’s airport.
The powerful explosion damaged several vehicles and sent a massive plume of black smoke over the Afghan capital. The city police chief confirmed to VOA the death of one civilian. At least 22 others were wounded, although local media reported a higher death toll.
Women and children were among the victims.
A spokeswoman for NATO’s non-combatant Resolute Support mission said two of its personnel suffered “minor injuries.” She added that coalition personnel and vehicles were recovered from the blast site, not far from the U.S. embassy.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the insurgent group was behind the attack on what he referred to as foreign “occupation forces.”
Hours before, President Ashraf Ghani addressed a function in Kabul where he dismissed concerns that increased Taliban violence threatens the country’s integrity.
“No one should even think that, God forbid, Afghanistan will collapse," Ghani said. "We have defended it for 5,000 years and are ready to sacrifice our lives to defend for another 5,000 years.”
The Afghan president added that security forces are capable of tackling the security challenge, although he admitted the task is not easy.
He said that in the northern Kunduz province alone, militants from 10 countries are fighting the Afghan security forces. He did not elaborate.
Local security officials have said that Uzbek, Tajik, Pakistani and Chechen nationals are among the foreign fighters.
Kunduz and surrounding northern provinces have been the focus of this year’s Afghan summer fighting. The Taliban had briefly seized three northern districts during recent hostilities before being pushed out by Afghan forces in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, the rise of pro-Islamic State groups in parts of Afghanistan has also added to security challenges facing the Afghan government. The fighters have also engaged in deadly clashes with Taliban militants.
Ghani, in his speech, underlined the need for all the neighboring countries to cooperate with Afghanistan in dealing with the militancy, warning it threatens regional stability as well.
Kabul, Lashkargah, and Uruzgan province, Afghanistan
Elsewhere in Afghanistan Tuesday, a Taliban suicide bomber drove his car into the back wall of police headquarters in southern Helmand province.
The assault in the provincial capital, Lashkargah, killed at least two people and wounded more than 50 others. The victims were mostly civilians, including women and children.
Afghan officials said the portion of the police complex where the bomber struck was close to a civilian settlement.