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Kabul Blast Kills at Least 18, Including US Soldiers

Afghan and foreign investigators inspect the site of a suicide attack in Kabul on , 18 May 2010

Afghan and foreign investigators inspect the site of a suicide attack in Kabul on , 18 May 2010

A suicide car bomber hit a NATO convoy in Kabul Tuesday killing at least 18 people and wounding more than 50 others. NATO says at least six international troops along with Afghan civilians are among the dead. Officials later confirmed five of the soldiers were American. Taliban militants have claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Afghan police and witnesses say the NATO convoy was passing through a southwestern part of Kabul during morning rush hour when a car packed with explosives struck it. The powerful blast destroyed more than a dozen military and civilian vehicles, including a public bus.

A man wounded in the blast gave details to reporters in a Kabul hospital.

The eyewitness says he was traveling in a car with his driver when suddenly a huge blast occurred, which shattered the windshields of our car. He says he quickly jumped out of it and as soon as he stood up he saw a dust cloud around and his car was on fire.

The area where the attack took place houses an army base, a private hospital, schools and a government ministry.

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai was addressing a news conference when the suicide bombing happened. He told reporters the attack inflicted casualties on both NATO troops and innocent civilians, including women as well as school children.

President Karzai said he condemns the attack in the strongest terms and hopes Afghanistan will soon get out of this suffering.

The attack comes as NATO forces are preparing for a major offensive against militant bases in the southern province of Kandahar, known as a Taliban stronghold. The insurgent group has threatened to step up attacks on government targets, foreign troops and diplomats in Afghanistan in response to NATO's planned offensive.

Referring to Tuesday's attack in Kabul, a NATO spokesman said in a statement this will not deter the international forces from their mission to secure a better future for Afghanistan.

The suicide bombing is being described as the deadliest against foreign troops in recent months in the tightly-guarded capital city. In September last year, a suicide car bomber killed six Italian soldiers in Kabul.

Insurgent attacks and military-related incidents have killed more than 200 foreign soldiers in Afghanistan this year.