Afghan suicide bombing, shooting kills at least 6
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber driving a van loaded with explosives rammed a coalition convoy on Saturday, killing four Afghans and an unknown number of NATO service members in the Afghan capital, officials said.
The explosion in Kabul, which caused a fire and littered the street with shrapnel, was one of three deadly incidents of the day across Afghanistan.
The Taliban promptly claimed responsibility for the Kabul attack, as well as for another suicide bombing outside a government intelligence office in the northwest province of Kunar.
In the restive south, an area traditionally viewed as the Taliban's stronghold, NATO said a man in an Afghan military uniform turned his weapon on coalition and Afghan forces, killing two NATO service members. The Afghan army's commander in the region, Gen. Abdul Hameed Wardak said an Afghan interpreter was also killed.
Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Zahir Azimi said the morning attack in the south occurred at a joint Afghan and coalition base in Uruzgan province. Officials were investigating whether the shooter, who was killed in the incident, was a member of the Afghan army or a militant wearing an army uniform, he said.
In Kabul, the suicide bomber targeted an armored bus that was part of a convoy of mine-resistant armored military vehicles traveling on a road in the southwest end of the city. NATO said there were "several" causalities among its forces and Afghan civilians, but did not provide details.
The Afghan Ministry of Interior said three Afghan civilians and one policeman died in the Kabul attack. Eight other Afghans — two members of the Afghan security forces and six civilians, including two children — were wounded, said Kabir Amiri, head of Kabul hospitals.
The attack occurred near the ladmark Darulaman Palace, the bombed-out seat of former Afghan kings.
NATO and Afghan forces sealed off the area as fire trucks and ambulances, sirens blaring, rushed in. Heavy black smoke poured from burning wreckage at the site. An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw two NATO helicopters landing to airlift casualties, while coalition troops using loudspeakers angrily ordered bystanders to evacuate the area.
Noor Ahmad, an eyewitness at the scene, said he saw a coalition soldier choking inside the burned bus.
"The bottom half of his body was burned," Ahmad said.
Coalition troops were seen carrying three black body bags from the burned wreckage and one charred body on a stretcher toward the waiting helicopters.
In text message to media outlets, the Taliban said a suicide bomber named Abdul Rahman had 1,540 pounds (700 kilograms) of explosives packed inside his vehicle.
The incident was reminiscent of another similar attack on a NATO convoy in May 2010. In that incident, a suicide bomber struck the convoy, killing 18 people, including five American troops and a Canadian. The Taliban, at the time, said the vehicle was packed with 1,650 pounds (750 kilograms) of explosives.
The attacks Saturday broke a relative lull in the Afghan capital.
The most recent attack in Kabul occurred on Sept. 20, when an insurgents with a bomb hidden in his turban assassinated former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani. The insurgent was posing as a peace emissary coming to meet Rabbani, who was leading a government effort to broker peace with the Taliban.
Earlier Saturday, a female suicide bomber blew herself up as she tried to attack a local government office in the capital of Kunar province, a hotbed of militancy in northeast Afghanistan along the Pakistan border.
Abdul Sabor Allayar, deputy provincial police chief, said the guards outside the government's intelligence office in Asad Abad became suspicious of the woman and started shooting, at which point she detonated her explosives.
There were no other casualties in that attack.
Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces conducted operations earlier this month, killing more than 100 insurgents in an effort to curb violence in rugged areas of Kunar where the coalition and Afghan government have a light footprint.
Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.