A suicide car bomb exploded outside the German embassy in Kabul yesterday, killing at least two Afghans and wounding dozens more people, including US soldiers and German nationals, officials said.
The Taliban movement claimed responsibility for the blast, which was also near the largest US base in the capital and UN offices. It was the first attack on Kabul this year after a series of bloody incidents last year.
“It was a suicide bombing,” Afghan defense ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi told reporters at the scene, where a tanker, apparently for waste collection, and several cars were in flames on a debris-littered road.
“Twenty-three people have been admitted to the hospitals. We have two martyred,” he said later.
One of the dead was a child and the other an adult male, he said.
The US military said five soldiers were wounded in the blast, revising an earlier statement that said two soldiers were killed and a dozen hurt.
“Zero US service members were killed and five were wounded,” US military spokeswoman Captain Elizabeth Mathias said.
“We had conflicting initial reports and the [first] information was not as verified as we would like it to have been,” she said.
One of the wounded soldiers was a woman, an Agence France-Presse photographer said.
The German embassy in Kabul refused to comment, but a foreign ministry official in Berlin said several staff were injured.
“From what we know for now, there are several injured among the staff and the building sustained damage,” a ministry spokesman said.
The blast was about 100m from the perimeter of Camp Eggers, the biggest US military base in Kabul, said Lieutenant Colonel Christian Kubik, another US military spokesperson.
Windows at the base were broken, but there was no significant damage, he said.
“The camp was not breached,” Kubik said.
A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahed, told reporters the attack was a suicide blast carried out by one of its men. The target was two German embassy vehicles in the area, he said
A witness named Ranjeet said some of the wounded were municipal cleaners.
“I saw four, five people, municipality workers, lying on the street. They were screaming and asking for help. Later ambulances came and picked them up,” he said.
Another man, Mohammad Babur, said he arrived at the scene minutes after the blast after being called by his brother who had been wounded in the explosion and was taken to hospital.
“I saw one dead body which was badly shattered. I saw several wounded,” he said.
The Afghan capital suffered a rash of attacks last year, fueling fears that the insurgency, which sees most violence in the south and east of the country, was encroaching on the capital.
On Nov. 27 a suicide car bomb also claimed by the Taliban blew up near the US embassy and killed four Afghan civilians.
The worst suicide attack on the capital was in July last year when an explosives-packed vehicle rammed into the gates of the Indian embassy, causing an explosion that killed around 60 people including two Indian diplomats.
Last year was the worst of the insurgency and military commanders have called for more troops and equipment.
The new administration of US president-elect Barack Obama is expected to send in up to 30,000 more troops in the next few months, almost doubling the number of US soldiers in the country.