A Taliban car bomber struck a NATO convoy in the Afghan capital on Saturday, killing at least 17 people, including 13 Americans, in one of the deadliest attacks to hit foreign forces in more than a decade of war.
The attacker blew up his Toyota sedan next to a US-run military bus travelling through the southwest of Kabul next to the Dar-ul-Aman palace ruins at 11:20 am (0650 GMT), in the latest in a spate of high-profile attacks.
The bombing was one of three deadly incidents for alliance forces in a day and came as NATO prepares for a second wave of transition to local forces, and ahead of two upcoming international conferences aimed at bridging peace.
The interior ministry said three bystanders and a policeman were killed, while NATO’s alliance force said at least 13 foreigners died — five troops and eight civilian employees, who US officials confirmed were all American.
At least one other soldier was wounded in the massive explosion, warning that the death toll could rise.
A Canadian soldier was also among the dead, the Canadian military said later, but it was not immediately clear whether his death added to the toll.
Thick smoke rose from a fire that raged long after the explosion, which was on a main road. The scene was cordoned off by Afghan and ISAF forces who were seen carrying the charred bodies of the dead on stretchers away from the whitened bus wreckage.
Over the past few months a series of attacks in the capital have shown the resilience of the Taliban, more than ten years after the Islamist movement was toppled from power by a US-led invasion.
Eight other major incidents have hit Kabul since the beginning of the year, including a complex attack on a luxury hotel that killed 21 people in June, a deadly suicide bombing on a British cultural centre and a siege of the US embassy and NATO headquarters that killed at least 14 in a 19-hour siege.
The assassination last month of the government’s chief peace broker, former president Burhanuddin Rabbani, also in Kabul, underscored the vulnerability of the capital as Kabul’s Western backers push for solutions to end the war and remove their combat troops by the end of 2014.
The attacks come a day after the Taliban launched a four-hour long assault on a US-run civilian-military base and NDS local branch in the southern city of Kandahar, the spiritual birthplace of the insurgent movement.
We can NOT get out of there soon enough!