Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Taliban car bomber hits convoy in Afghan capital

KABUL – A car bomb exploded near the entrance to Kabul's military airport early Tuesday in an apparent attack on an international convoy, killing at least two civilians and wounding six, Afghan officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast.

U.S. and NATO forces said they did not yet have details on the incident or any casualties, but Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary said at least two Afghan civilians were killed and six wounded.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, and said that a suicide car bomber rammed into a NATO convoy and destroyed three Landcruisers.

The early morning blast in the Afghan capital rattled windows more than a mile away and flames continued to shoot out from burned vehicles more than an hour later as fire trucks ringed the area. Small blasts could be heard, likely from ammunition exploding inside the vehicles.

A police official for the area, Rohullah, confirmed the attack and said it appeared to be against a NATO convoy. Like many Afghans, the official goes by one name.

A witness said he saw the car ram into a line of SUVs.

"I saw three or four Landcruisers for the foreigners just in front of the gate ... then there was a car and it hit them then blew up," said Humayun, who watched the attack from his nearby shop.

U.S. forces spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Vician confirmed an explosion south of the airport, but said he did not yet have further details. The military airport is right next to Kabul's civilian airport, but they have separate entrances.

Insurgent attacks, often deadly, occur in Kabul despite tight security and blast walls. Suicide bombers have hit government buildings and gunmen have overrun ministries.

NATO said that two militants fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the rear gate of Camp Phoenix outside Kabul late Monday, but there were no injuries to anyone inside and no damage to the base. Afghan police said the two militants were killed.

In the runup to Aug. 20 elections, a suicide attack near the main gate of NATO headquarters killed seven people, gunmen briefly took over a bank in the city, and insurgents fired on the presidential palace and unleashed suicide car bombers on NATO convoys.

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