KABUL: A Taliban suicide bomber killed 14 Nepalese security guards in a blast targeting their Kabul minibus, officials said, the first claimed attack in the capital since Washington expanded the US military’s authority to strike the insurgents.
The attack, which police said was carried out by a suicide bomber on foot, came shortly before 6 a.m. on a main road leading east out of the capital towards the city of Jalalabad.
“As a result 14 foreigners were killed, all Nepalese nationals,” the interior ministry said in a statement, adding it “strongly condemns” the attack.
The guards were employed by a company that provides security to Western embassies in Kabul, a security official who asked to remain anonymous told Agence France-Presse. Nine other people were wounded, including five Nepalese and four Afghans, the ministry said.
The sound of the explosion could be heard across Kabul and a plume of smoke could be seen above the site of the blast on the Jalalabad road, a main route that houses many foreign compounds and military facilities.
More than two dozen ambulances rushed to the scene, an Agence France-Presse journalist said, with police blocking off the road. Children watched as the yellow, blood-spattered bus was taken away. There was also damage to shops near the explosion site with windows shattered.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack on social media, saying it was “against the forces of aggression” in Afghanistan.
The attack comes days after Washington announced an expansion of the US military’s authority to conduct air strikes against the Taliban, significantly boosting Afghan forces, who have limited close air-support capacities.
It was the first attack in the capital since the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan two weeks ago.