KABUL – At least 12 people, including two foreign soldiers, were killed and dozens wounded after a Taliban suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden car blew himself up on Thursday near a heavily-guarded government office complex in the center of Afghan capital Kabul, officials said.
The bombing took place in a high security zone that houses several government offices, including the headquarters of Afghanistan’s primary intelligence agency – the National Directorate of Security.
Interior ministry spokesperson Nasrat Rahimi said the blast that took place at 10:10 am in Shashdarak area of Kabul killed 10 civilians and wounded 42 others. Some 12 private vehicles were also destroyed in the powerful explosion.
A NATO statement said that two members of Resolute Support mission were killed in the Kabul bombing.
“One service member was from Romania… The second service member was from the United States,” the statement said.
In accordance with NATO policy, the mission didn’t release details of the slain soldiers until 24 hours after their families are notified.
The Taliban insurgent group claimed responsibility for the Kabul attack, saying the suicide bombing targeted a convoy of “foreign invaders” going to the NDS office.
Its spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that three Land Cruisers were “completely damaged” in the attack that killed “12 foreign invaders and eight NDS soldiers.”
Afghan officials usually deny Taliban figures, saying their numbers are always exaggerated.
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani “strongly” condemned what he called a “cowardly attack on civilians by the Taliban.”
“They have shamelessly claimed responsibility and are celebrating the deaths of innocent lives,” he said.
The explosion comes as the United States and the Taliban are believed to have finalized in principle an agreement for peace in Afghanistan after a year of negotiations to end the 18-year-old war.
The attack follows Monday’s Taliban suicide bombing when a tractor laden with explosives was detonated near a heavily-guarded residential complex in the Afghan capital that mostly houses foreigners. At least 16 civilians and five attackers were killed and nearly 119 injured.
The Taliban called the area a “nest of foreign invaders.”
That attack took place hours after the United States special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, shared with President Ghani a draft accord with the Taliban after several months of peace talks in Qatar.
The Afghan government on Wednesday expressed its concern over the “unpleasant consequences” that could arise from the pact between the two sides that seeks withdrawal of US troops from the war-torn country.