Suicide Bomber Attacks Convoy of NATO Troops Near U.S. Embassy in Afghan Capital

suicide-bombing-nato-us-embassy-afghan

A suicide bomber targeted a convoy of NATO troops Tuesday on the road between the international airport and the U.S. Embassy here in the Afghan capital, police and a NATO official said.

It was not clear how many people were killed or wounded in the early afternoon attack.

A spokesman for the NATO coalition, Tommy Fuller, confirmed that a coalition convoy came under attack, but he said there were no casualties among the troops.

Witnesses said five Afghan civilians were killed, however, and more than half a dozen were wounded. The attack occurred near a shopping plaza, about 500 yards from the embassy.

The blast shook buildings and rattled windows in the capital’s heavily fortified diplomatic enclave, news reports said. An armored vehicle, part of the NATO convoy, was badly damaged, witnesses said.

The Taliban asserted responsibility for the attack, which came as government employees were leaving their offices and traffic was heavy during a shortened workday as part of the fasting month of Ramadan.

A second attack occurred outside the main police station in the capital of southern Helmand province. Two civilians were killed and 50 people, including several police officers, were hurt, according to provincial officials.

The attacks came just hours after President Ashraf Ghani said at an event in Kabul that despite growing violence, political instability and the emergence of the Islamic State militant group in some areas of the country, Afghanistan will not collapse.

Ghani urged regional powers, including Russia and India, to forge a consensus, however, on how to stabilize his country.

Since assuming office 10 months ago, Ghani has focused on improving ties with neighboring Pakistan, where the Taliban leadership is thought to reside. He has also tried to procure monetary aid and weapons for Afghanistan for its fight against the Taliban and other extremist groups.

But Taliban insurgents have stepped up and broadened their attacks despite an unprecedented round of meetings between Afghan and Pakistani officials. Ghani hopes that Pakistan can persuade the Taliban to agree to some sort of political negotiation. Many Afghans, however, remain skeptical of Pakistan’s role as an interlocutor.

Last week, Taliban insurgents attacked the Afghan parliament, an audacious daylight assault that forced lawmakers to flee the heavily fortified government installation.

Meanwhile, an official said Monday that 11 Afghan soldiers were killed in a Taliban ambush in a western province that borders Iran, according to the Associated Press. On the same day, six other troops lost their lives during a battle with the Taliban in southern Kandahar province.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/posttv/c/embed/b982f9d0-1f2a-11e5-a135-935065bc30d0

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Sayed Salahuddin and Daniela Deane

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