A suicide attack on a NATO military convoy in Kabul Thursday killed at least 15 people, including several foreigners. An insurgent group fighting alongside the Taliban is claiming responsibility for what is being described as one of the deadliest attacks in the Afghan capital in recent months.
Afghan authorities and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, said the attack occurred during the morning rush-hour in Kabul.
Witnesses said the suicide bomber rammed his explosive-packed car into the military convoy as it passed through a residential part of the capital city. Eyewitness Rahmatullah told reporters the powerful explosion caused heavy damage to coalition vehicles and several houses nearby.
He said the blast took place not far from where he was sitting and it wounded a large number of people, including children. The witness said he saw at least five foreigners among those killed.
Afghan Interior Minister Mujtaba Patang told reporters most of the dead and wounded were bystanders. He said some of the wounded were in critical condition.
A spokesman for ISAF, Bryan Purtell, said the attack is under investigation but did not discuss nationalities of the foreign victims.
“It was two ISAF service members and four ISAF-contracted civilians that died during the IED attack in Kabul this morning,” he said.
Afghan police stand guard at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, May 16, 2013.
A NATO soldier with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) stand at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, May 16, 2013.
Afghan police guard at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, May 16, 2013.
NATO soldiers with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) arrive at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, May 16, 2013.
A wounded Afghan woman lies at the hospital after a suicide attack in Kabul, May 16, 2013.
U.S. military officials said the two soldiers were Americans. Media reports said all of the foreigners killed were Americans.
A spokesman for the militant group Hezb-e Islami, an ally of the Taliban, said it carried out Thursday’s suicide bombing.
Speaking to VOA by phone from an undisclosed location, spokesman Haroon Zarghoun said their target was U.S. military advisers
He claimed Hezb-e Islami fighters were monitoring the movements of the advisers for more than a week before Thursday’s attack. He said the attack was a response to U.S. plans to keep military bases in Afghanistan after 2014 when most foreign forces will have withdrawn from the country.
In a statement released by his office, Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack in Kabul, calling it "an inhumane and un-Islamic act perpetrated by the enemies” of peace in Afghanistan.
The Afghan insurgent group, headed by Gulbudin Hikmatyar, has rarely carried out suicide attacks. The last time the group claimed responsibility for a similar attack was in September of 2012, when a female suicide bomber wearing a burqa ((ull veil) blew herself up near a bus carrying foreigners to work in Kabul. Seven South African and Russian pilots were among the victims of that attack.