Telegraph – August 15, 2009
Personnel with the International Security Assistance Force — ISAF — were among the casualties, who included passers-by and dozens of workers in the Transportation Ministry opposite.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes just five days before Afghanistan’s nationwide elections.
The suicide car bomb was detonated in the heavily guarded neighbourhood around the heavily fortified military compound in the Afghan capital of Kabul that houses the Nato headquarters, the US Embassy and the Afghan presidential palace.
A driver apparently penetrated at least one security checkpoint and detonated the vehicle about 30 yards from the entrance.
Blooded and dazed victims, including children who congregate outside the Nato gate to sell gum to Westerners, wandered the streets after being caught in the blast.
Windows of nearby shops were shattered and blood was left smeared on the ground.
“I was drinking tea in our office when a big explosion happened,” said Abdul Fahim, an Afghan in his mid-20s who sustained leg injuries. “I lay on the ground and then I saw wounded victims everywhere, including police and civilians.”
A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, claimed responsibility for the blast. He said the bomb contained 1,100 pounds of explosives. Mujahid at first said the bomber was on foot, then later called back and said it was a suicide car bomb attack.
It was the first major attack in Kabul since February, when eight Taliban militants attacked three government buildings simultaneously, an assault that killed 20 people and the eight attackers.
Taliban insurgents have vowed to disrupt the elections and have stepped up their attacks in recent weeks.
There are expected to be questions about how the car was able to get down one of the most heavily protected streets in Kabul just days before the elections.
The bomber was able to evade several rings of Afghan police and detonate his explosives at the doorstep to the international military mission, an assault possibly aimed at sending a sign that the Taliban can attack anywhere it wants.
The Nato compound sits beside the US Embassy and shares the same street as the presidential palace.
Nato headquarters has several large, concrete blocks and steel gates that prevent anyone from reaching the entrance, and the bomber was not able to breach those barriers.
Last updated 17/08/2009