Afghan police and U.S. military cordon off an area in Kabul after a car bomb attack Tuesday ripped through a NATO convoy and public bus in the heavily fortified Afghan capital.
Afghan police and U.S. military cordon off an area in Kabul after a car bomb attack Tuesday ripped through a NATO convoy and public bus in the heavily fortified Afghan capital. Amir Shah/AP
The mangled remains of a vehicle lie at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The mangled remains of a vehicle lie at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. Ahmad Massoud/AP
A Taliban suicide bomber killed six NATO troops, including five Americans, after ramming an explosives-packed car into a convoy in Afghanistan's capital Tuesday.
Twelve Afghan civilians, including women and children, also died in the blast. Most of the victims were on a public bus along a main thoroughfare leading into Kabul.
The attack was the deadliest for NATO troops in the capital since September, when six Italian soldiers were killed by a car bomb. The bomber carried out the assault despite efforts by Afghan authorities to bolster security in Kabul.
The blast wrecked nearly 20 vehicles, including five SUVs in the NATO convoy, and scattered debris and body parts across the wide boulevard. The body of a woman in a burqa was smashed against the window of the bus.
U.S. troops and Afghan police cordoned off the wrecked vehicles at the blast site as emergency workers placed the dead into body bags and lifted them into ambulances.
NPR's Quil Lawrence reported from Kabul that Afghan police said the attacker's car, which reportedly carried more than a thousand pounds of explosives, swerved from oncoming traffic into the lead vehicles in the convoy en route to a base in Western Kabul.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast that appeared to be part of a campaign to bring insurgent violence — which has long plagued the countryside — into the capital. NATO is preparing for a major offensive in the southern province of Kandahar, a major Taliban stronghold.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press in a phone call from an undisclosed location that the bomber was a man from Kabul and his car was packed with 1,650 pounds of explosives. The target of the attack was the foreign convoy, Mujahid said.
NATO confirmed that six service members were killed in the attack, and U.S. forces spokesman Col. Wayne Shanks confirmed that five of them were American. The nationality of the sixth NATO soldier was not immediately disclosed.
NATO spokesman Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz said in a statement that the attack "will not deter us from our mission of securing a better future for this country."
News of the attack reached Afghan President Hamid Karzai as he was holding a news conference to discuss his recent trip to Washington, D.C., where he met with President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"I condemn this attack on strongest terms and hope that Afghanistan one day gets rid of this," Karzai said.
NATO said five of its vehicles were damaged, along with more than a dozen civilian vehicles. There were no obvious military vehicles among the wreckage, but NATO troops often travel in unmarked SUVs in the capital.