Kabul suicide attack kills four Afghans, one US soldier (Roundup)

January 17th, 2009 - 10:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Kabul, Jan 17 (DPA) A blast believed to have been triggered by a suicide bomber killed four Afghan civilians and one US soldier and wounded more than 30 others near the German embassy here Saturday, officials said.The attack, which was carried out with a car loaded with explosives, took place in front of the embassy, which is adjacent to a US military base, a UN office building and some 200 metres from the presidential palace, officials said.

Initially Abdullah Fahim, spokesman for the Afghan Health Ministry, said two civilians were killed and 23 others were wounded, but reports gathered by DPA from four hospitals in Kabul city showed that four civilians were killed and over 30 others wounded.

The US military said in a statement that one of their soldiers was killed while six other military service members and a US civilian were wounded. US military officials had earlier said two US soldiers had been killed and 12 others wounded.

US military spokeswoman Captain Elizabeth Mathias said their initial report was based on “bad information”.

A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin said several employees of the embassy were among the injured. No further details were given.

Among the four Afghan dead were a father and his 18-year-old son, who were travelling in a van, a medical official in the 400-bed army hospital said. He also said that they received two legs of the bomber and a body of a fuel tanker driver, which was badly charred by the fire.

The Taliban took responsibility for Saturday’s bombing in a statement posted at the rebel website and said that one of their bombers named Sham-ul-Rahman carried out the attack, using a Toyota-Corolla filled with explosives.

The Taliban statement claimed that eight German soldiers were killed in the attack, while several German diplomats were among the casualties.

The statement also claimed that the blast destroyed part of the German embassy building.

The Taliban often provide different accounts for their operations, which are often proven to be exaggerated or falsified.

“This was a well-travelled civilian road,” US military spokesman Colonel Jerry O’Hara said in a statement, adding: “This incident will only strengthen our collective resolve to aggressively pursue enemy networks before they can hurt innocent Afghans and coalition forces.”

Several vehicles including a passenger van and tanker in front of the embassy’s gate were ablaze and thick smoke was billowing from the area.

Private TV channel Tolo showed several Afghan municipal workers soaked in blood being rushed off the scene by a pick-up truck.

The area, which is one of the city’s main intersections, was cordoned off by Afghan and US soldiers.

“A van was coming towards me and there was a motorbike or a small car that hit the van and then there was a big bang and I don’t remember anything until I found myself in the hospital,” Abdul Mateen, a security guard for the Germany embassy, who was wounded in the attack, told DPA.

Mateen, 22, who was recovering in a Kabul city hospital from wounds to his hand and leg said he was standing a few metres from the blast site and that his body “was thrown to the other side of the concrete wall”.

Embassies and international aid and military office buildings are surrounded by concrete blocks to protect them from attacks.

Taliban militants, who were driven out of power in a US-led invasion in late 2001, have carried out hundreds of suicide attacks in the past seven years.

The militants were responsible for more than 120 suicide bombings in 2008 in Afghanistan. More than 50 people including two Indian diplomats were killed in a suicide attack against the Indian embassy in July last year.

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