Days before the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, a massive suicide car bomb struck a convoy of US military vehicles in the Afghan capital yesterday, killing at least 18 people, including two US soldiers, and wounding 31 others, officials and witnesses said.
The blast near the US embassy in Kabul came as NATO chiefs appealed for member nations to send reinforcements to combat resurgent Taliban militants. A top British general said the fighting in volatile southern Afghanistan was now more ferocious than in Iraq.
Sixteen Afghans were killed in the blast and 29 wounded, said Ali Shah Paktiawal, a Kabul police director, saying the dead and injured were taken to three hospitals in the capital.
US military spokeswoman Lieutenant Tamara Lawrence said two US soldiers were also killed and two more wounded when the attacker detonated his bomb-packed Corolla alongside their Humvee, turning the armored vehicle into a burning hulk of twisted metal.
The blast blew pieces of the Humvee and US uniforms into trees planted in the road's median strip, which were set alight by the explosion. The force of the car bomb shattered windows throughout the downtown area. A plume of brown smoke spiraled hundreds of meters into the sky.
The bombing, one of the biggest in Kabul in recent years, came three days ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the US and as Afghan started commemorating the Sept. 9, 2001, assassination of revered anti-Taliban mujahidin commander Ahmad Shah Masood.
The blast went off about 50m from Kabul's landmark Massood Square, which leads to the main gate of the heavily fortified US embassy compound.
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