Suicide bomber hits minibus carrying foreign security guards in Kabul (AFP)
KABUL, Afghanistan, June 20: A Taliban suicide bomber killed 14 Nepalese security guards in an attack Monday on their minibus in the Afghan capital, Kabul, the Interior Ministry and an Afghan security official said.
The Nepalese were on their way to the Canadian Embassy where they work as guards, according to another Nepalese guard who was wounded in the attack.
It was the latest attack by the Taliban, who have stepped up assaults, including in the Afghan capital, as part of their summer offensive. The insurgents frequently target government employees and Afghan security forces across the country.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a bomb rigged to a motorbike killed eight Afghan civilians during morning rush hour in a province in the northeast. And later on Monday in Kabul, a second Taliban bombing killed an Afghan civilian and wounded five people, including a provincial council member who was the intended target of that attack, authorities said.
In the bombing that killed the Nepalese guards, the bomber was on foot when he struck the minibus, said Gen. Abdul Rahman Rahimi, the city's police chief. He did not identify the foreign security company the guards work for.
An Interior Ministry statement confirmed that all 14 killed were Nepalese citizens, describing the attack as the work of a "terrorist suicide bomber." It said the explosion also wounded nine people, five Nepalese employees and four Afghan civilians.
Amrit Rokaya Chhetri, a Nepalese guard wounded in the attack, told The Associated Press they were on their way to the Canadian Embassy when the blast took place.
"Many people died," Chhetri said from his hospital bed, his head covered with bandage. "I say to my family, I am ok and I will come home."
Abdullah Abdullah, the country's chief executive officer, condemned the attack in a posting on Twitter, saying: "This attack is an act of terror and intimidation."
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement to media.
In late May, a suicide bomber targeted a minibus carrying court employees during morning rush hour in Kabul, killing 11 people -- judges and court employees. The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack as well. The bomber, who was on foot, detonated his explosives' vest as he walked by the vehicle in the western part of the city.
In Nepal, Bharat Raj Paudyal, spokesman for Nepal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the government is aware of Monday's incident in Kabul and is trying to verify the names of the victims and details about the bombing.
Nepal does not have an embassy in Afghanistan but the embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, is working to get the details, he said.
In the northeastern Badakhshan province, the parked motorbike-bomb that killed at least eight Afghan civilians also wounded 14 others, according to Naved Froutan, spokesman for the provincial governor.
The explosion took place in the main bazaar in Kashim district, he said, adding that "an investigation is underway to determine the target of the attack, but all victims of the attack are civilians."
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the Badakhshan attack, though Taliban are active in the area and regularly target Afghan security forces there.
Meanwhile, the second blast in Kabul went off near the home of Mawlavi Attaullah Faizani, a member of the Kabul provincial council, said Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Afghan interior minister.
Sediqqi said the bomb went off as Faizani was passing by in his vehicle. Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, said insurgents had targeted the provincial council member.