News / Asia

    Taliban Claims Responsibility for Attack on US Company

    Afghan security members of Contrack company stand at the scene of a car bomb explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan,  December 17, 2012.
    Afghan security members of Contrack company stand at the scene of a car bomb explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 17, 2012.
    The Taliban have claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on a U.S. contracting company on the outskirts of Kabul which killed at least one Afghan, injuring several others.

    The suicide bomber rammed a vehicle filled with explosives into the outside compound wall of Contrack International, which is involved in building aircraft runways and ammunition storage systems for military bases around Afghanistan.

    Speaking through an interpreter, a security officer for the company described the daylight assault.

    "It was around 11, and we were in the office when we heard a very loud explosion," he said. "Then, for about 15 minutes, there was dust everywhere and we couldn't see anything, and as we went out to the back, we saw a suicide car bomber had exploded himself, and wounded 11 to 12 people, and one of them was in critical condition. We don't know if he is alive or dead."

    According to the security officer, five foreign staff were injured in the blast.

    The Taliban took responsibility for the attack, claiming the company was involved in security.

    Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said they'd been watching the company for some time, and that the attack had killed more than 100 foreign and local staff.

    Kabul's deputy police chief confirmed people had been injured in the explosion, but did not provide any numbers.

    "Unfortunately, there was a suicide attack with the bomber using a vehicle, but the incident is still under investigation," said Gen. Mohammad Daud Amin. "The attack took place in the back of the Contrack compound where there is a street, where the vehicle exploded causing casualties and damage to the area."

    Contrack International, a multi-million dollar company, first opened its offices in Kabul in 2003. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Egypt-based Orascom Construction Industries. According to the Orascom website, Contrack is one of the largest contractors operating in Afghanistan, employing over 1,400 staff full-time staff.

    Just hours before the Kabul blast, another explosion took place in eastern Nangarhar province on the border with Pakistan. Ten Afghan girls gathering firewood were killed in the explosion, apparently set off by an old landmine.
     
    The head of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, said he was saddened by the news. After 30 years of war, Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries on earth, he said.
     
    In neighboring Pakistan, a massive car bomb went off in a market in the country's northwestern border tribal region, killing least 17 people, including women and children. Taliban and al-Qaida militants regularly operate in the area.
     
    The attack came on the heels of a Pakistani Taliban rocket and bomb attack on the international airport in the provincial capital of Peshawar over the weekend. Four people died in that assault.

    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

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