A powerful explosion rocked Kabul early on Tuesday morning, killing at least six soldiers and wounding more than 25 other people, according to police — one of the worst attacks on international forces in the Afghan capital in months.
The attack targeted a convoy near the U.S. Embassy compound, which is also home to other members of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Tuesday’s violence comes amid a months-long political stalemate and an emboldened insurgency in the country, alongside a still unresolved presidential election ahead of the scheduled departure of foreign combat troops by the end of the year.
Farid Afzalai, chief of criminal investigations for Kabul’s police, confirmed reports that the bomber targeted a foreign convoy. The bomber struck near the country’s Supreme Court on a busy road that runs from the U.S. Embassy to Kabul’s airport, aiming at soldiers from the ISAF.
There was no immediate word on any Afghan casualties.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide car bombing via a recognized Twitter account and in a statement emailed to journalists. It said a suicide bomber, identified only as Bilal, had been lying in wait for foreign troops in a car packed with explosives.
The blast, which witnesses described as huge, tore through cars on the main airport road near the embassy, leaving them tangled hunks of metal.
Ambulances rushed to the scene within minutes of the explosion.
In the aftermath of the explosion, which occurred during heavy rush-hour traffic, Afghan and foreign troops secured the area as fire and rescue vehicles moved in.
At the side of the road, foreign troops gave first-aid to some bloodstained fellow soldiers from the convoy.
About half a dozen cars stood damaged, and investigators inspected an empty black four-wheel-drive vehicle, its windows smashed and exterior pockmarked by shrapnel. One vehicle from the convoy was thrown off the road and destroyed by the blast.
In recent months, the Taliban has targeted several government facilities in the war-torn country, which is still grappling with a political impasse after a contested presidential election between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani.
The government has been paralyzed for months, and that has emboldened the Taliban, which vowed to disrupt the elections, weakened the fragile economy and put future international military and economic aid at risk.
The United Nations has expressed fears that a disputed election result could revive the ethnic violence of the 1990s’ civil war, when chaos allowed the Taliban to come to power.
Meanwhile, in western Herat province, one U.S. soldier was killed when an unidentified member of the Afghan security forces turned on his trainers late on Monday, the latest incident in a string of green-on-blue attacks.
A Western official, who asked not to be identified, said the U.S. soldier was killed when the Afghan threw a hand grenade at his trainers.
Also overnight, two suicide bombers set 26 fuel tankers ablaze in an attack on a customs post near a border crossing into Pakistan in Afghanistan’s east, local media reported on Tuesday.
Al Jazeera and wire services