Six Nato soldiers killed in Kabul suicide blast.
Thursday, 17 Sep, 2009
KABUL: A massive suicide car bomb ripped into a Nato convoy killing six Italian soldiers and three Afghan civilians on the airport road in the heavily fortified Afghan capital on Thursday, officials said.
The explosion struck just after midday about 1.5 kilometres from the gates of the US embassy on the busy airport road, destroying one vehicle with the Nato-led International Security Assistance Forces (Isaf).
Six Italian soldiers were killed and another three wounded, the Italian defence ministry announced after the Taliban claimed one of the worst single attacks on the more than 100,000 Nato and US-led troops serving in Afghanistan.
‘It was a suicide car bomb attack. Up to now two civilians were killed and nine were wounded, but the number may increase,’ said the chief of criminal investigations for Kabul police, Sayed Abdul Ghapar Sayed Zada.
‘It was against Italian forces. They had casualties,’ he added.
Ahmad Farid Raaid, health ministry spokesman, said three civilians were killed and 38 wounded. Witnesses put the death toll from the blast, which was claimed by the Taliban, at six.
Armoured vehicles showing the Italian flag and clearly marked with the Isaf logo were damaged, with vehicle parts strewn over the blood-stained road and shops destroyed by the power of the blast, witnesses said.
An AFP reporter said he saw the body of one Isaf soldier lying by the roadside and remains of three more bodies pulled from an armoured vehicle, although it was unclear if they were all foreign soldiers.
He confirmed at least two civilian bodies were also removed from the scene, where the blast created a crater in the dusty road.
‘I was walking to my shop when I heard a huge blast and then thick black smoke,’ said Sawad, who lives near the blast site.
‘I thought that day had become night. When I came back, for minutes I couldn't see anything. Then I saw one man lying on the tarmac without a head. I saw around 10 people, civilians killed, 40 to 50 wounded.’
Television footage and photographs clearly showed the Italian flag on the Isaf armoured vehicles, one of which was destroyed in the blast.
Kabul has been hit recently by several suicide blasts claimed by Taliban militants bent on toppling the western-backed government. Once such attack killed three civilians outside the city's military airport on September 8.
In August, a massive suicide car bomb attack on Isaf's Kabul headquarters killed seven Afghan civilians, underscoring the increasingly brazen nature of the Taliban threat as the militia wages a fierce insurgency.There are about 100,000 US and Nato-led forces in Afghanistan helping the government battle a Taliban insurgency, at its worst since the Islamist hardliners were overthrown in a US-backed invasion in late 2001.