x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Afghan suicide bomber rams car into US convoy, killing at least 15

A suicide bomber rammed a car into a US convoy in Kabul killing at least 15 people including two American soldiers and four civilian contractors.

KABUL // A suicide bomber rammed a car into a US convoy in Kabul yesterday, killing at least 15 people including two American soldiers and four civilian contractors, officials said.

Cmdr Bill Speaks, a spokesman for the US defence secretary, confirmed that the two soldiers from the Nato military coalition who were killed in the bombing were Americans. He would not comment on the nationalities of the civilian contractors.

Nine Afghan civilians died in the blast, including two children, said a health ministry spokesman, Kanishka Beektash Torkystani, and 35 people were wounded.

The Hizb-e-Islami militant group claimed responsibility for the early morning bombing, saying its new "martyrdom" unit had stalked the convoy for weeks.

Body parts littered the scene of the attack, and one US vehicle was reduced to a mangled pile of metal. The explosion was powerful enough to rattle buildings on the other side of the city.

The suicide bomber detonated with a car packed with explosives at about 8 am, the Kabul provincial police spokesman Hashmad Stanakzi said. "The explosion was very big. It set the nearby buildings on fire," he said.

Kabul's deputy police chief Daud Amin said it was difficult to count the dead because the blast shredded many of the victims.

"We saw two dead bodies of children on the ground," Amin said. "But the rest of the [shattered] bodies were scattered around."

A spokesman for Hizb-e-Islami, Haroon Zarghoon, said the militant group had formed a new cell to carry out suicide attacks on US and other coalition troops in response to reports that the US planned to keep permanent bases and troops in Afghanistan even after the planned withdrawal of Nato forces next year.

Hizb-e-Islami is headed by 65-year-old Gubuddin Hekmatyar, a former Afghan prime minister and onetime US ally who is now listed as a terrorist by Washington. The militia has thousands of fighters and followers in the country's north and east.