KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - A Taliban suicide car bomber struck a
NATO convoy in the Afghan capital Tuesday, killing six troops, five
of them American, officials said. Twelve Afghan civilians also died
- many of them on a public bus in rush-hour traffic.
The powerful blast occurred on a major Kabul thoroughfare that
runs by the ruins of a one-time royal palace and government
ministries. It wrecked nearly 20 vehicles, including five SUVs in
the NATO convoy, and scattered debris and body parts across the
wide boulevard. The body of woman in a burqa was smashed against
the window of the bus.
The attack - the deadliest for NATO troops in the capital since
September - comes despite a ramped up effort by Afghan authorities
to intercept would-be attackers and better secure a capital city
that saw a spate of brazen attacks this winter.
In the last such attack in February, suicide bombers stormed two
small downtown hotels and killed 16 people.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press in
a phone call from an undisclosed location that the bomber was a man
from Kabul and his car was packed with 1,650 pounds (750 kilograms)
of explosives. The target of the attack was the foreign convoy, he
U.S. troops and Afghan police held a security cordon around
wrecked vehicles at the blast site in the west of the city.
Emergency workers zipped the dead into body bags and lifted the
injured into ambulances.
"I saw one person laying on the ground with no head," said
Mirza Mohammad, who was on his way to work when the blast happened
up the road.
Police officer Wahidullah, who goes by one name, said he saw the
body of woman in a burqa smashed up against the window of the bus.
"Everywhere was dead bodies," Wahidullah said. At least 12
Afghan civilians died and 47 were wounded - most of them in the
bus, the Interior Ministry said.
NATO said six of its service members were killed in the attack,
and U.S. forces spokesman Col. Wayne Shanks confirmed that five of
those were American. The nationality of the sixth was not
It was the deadliest attack for NATO in the capital since a
September suicide bombing that killed six Italian soldiers. The
attack comes as NATO readies a major offensive in the southern
province of Kandahar, a major Taliban stronghold.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen condemned the
attack and said it would not deter NATO's efforts in Afghanistan.
"NATO remains committed to its mission to protect the Afghan
people and to strengthen Afghanistan's ability to resist
terrorism," Rasmussen said in Brussels.
President Hamid Karzai also condemned the attack.
"There were casualties among the NATO forces as well as among
civilians - women, children and schoolchildren," Karzai told a
NATO said that five of its vehicles were damaged as well as more
than a dozen civilian vehicles. There were no obvious military
vehicles among the wreckage, but NATO troops often travel in
unmarked SUVs in the capital.
The Feb. 26 attack against two residential hotels in the capital
killed six Indians, along with 10 Afghans. Afghan authorities
blamed the attack on Lashkar-e-Taiba, the same Pakistan-based
Islamist militia that India blames for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist
attacks that killed 166 people.