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Blast targets foreign troops near US embassy

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-27

A suicide car bomber struck a convoy of foreign troops near the US embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul. At least four Afghan civilians were killed, according to police sources.

A suicide car bomb claimed by Taliban insurgents blew up near the US embassy in Kabul Thursday and killed four Afghan civilians, officials said, in the latest in a series of extremist attacks in Afghanistan.
The blast, about 100 metres (330 feet) from the heavily secured entrance to the embassy, damaged several vehicles in morning rush-hour traffic. Blood smeared the road and tree branches were set alight.
The interior ministry said the target appeared to have been a passing convoy of foreign troops, but a witness said there was no such convoy.
"The information we have so far is that four people have been killed and three wounded. It was a suicide attack," a city police chief, General Alishah Paktiawal, said at the scene.
Remains of the suicide attacker lay on the ground near the burning remnants of the car used to carry the bomb.
The heavily barricaded US embassy, which sits on a road entirely closed to traffic, was closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.
"All embassy staff are accounted for," US embassy spokesman Mark Stroh told AFP.
There were three bodies and 18 wounded people in the city's hospital, health ministry spokesman Abdullah Fahim told AFP.
The Taliban, an extremist Islamic group that ran the government in Kabul from 1996 to 2001, said through a spokesman it had carried out the attack and claimed it was aimed at international soldiers.
However the US military and the separate NATO-led force said they were not aware of their troops having been in the area.
A local shopkeeper said he had seen no foreigners at the time of the blast, adding the attacker appeared to have made a mistake.
"A Corolla vehicle came at high speed and had an accident with a white civilian Corolla here and then we heard a big explosion," 20-year-old Arif Hussain told AFP.
"There was no army, police or foreign forces in the area at the time. He was driving very fast somewhere when he had the accident," he said, adding he saw the bodies of three people torn apart by the blast.
The Afghan capital has suffered a rash of attacks this year, fuelling fears that a Taliban-led insurgency which mostly attacks in the south and east of the country is encroaching on the capital.
The Taliban movement claimed responsibility for an October 30 attack in which a suicide bomber at the information and culture ministry building in the city centre and killed five people.
A suicide attack outside the Indian embassy in July killed about 60 people while an attack on a five-star hotel in January killed eight people, four of whom were foreign nationals.
The deteriorating security is a concern for Afghanistan's international allies who have stumped up nearly 70,000 soldiers and billions of dollars to rid the country of its extremist threat and rebuild after decades of war.
NATO's secretary general and representatives from the UN Security Council this week heard concerns, including those expressed by President Hamid Karzai, about progress in the US-led "war on terror" launched in Afghanistan following the 2001 ousting of the Taliban regime.
"We did not welcome the international community in Afghanistan so that our lives get worse," Karzai told reporters Tuesday after talks with NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, whose alliance leads the bulk of foreign troops here.


Date created : 2008-11-27