Taliban car bomb attack kills 13 Americans in Kabul
US forces in Afghanistan suffered their deadliest insurgent attack in months on Saturday after a car filled with explosives rammed into the side of an armoured bus
US forces in Afghanistan suffered their deadliest insurgent attack in months on Saturday after a car filled with explosives rammed into the side of an armoured bus taking troops between Nato bases in Kabul.
The International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said that 13 Americans were killed – five soldiers and eight civilian staff – and one was seriously wounded, without specifying nationalities.
However, Afghan and western officials privately confirmed that all of the dead were from the US, making it the heaviest loss of American lives since a Chinook helicopter was shot down by the Taliban in August, killing 30 Americans and eight Afghans. Four Afghan civilians were also killed in the attack. In a text message to the Observer, the Taliban said that they had carried out the bombing.
The insurgent group said that they had filled the vehicle with around 700kg of explosive, and launched the attack at about midday. It took place on a thoroughfare overlooked by the hulks of old royal palaces wrecked by the country's civil war in the 1990s. One eyewitness said that a red Toyota Corolla had been seen driving at high speed in an apparent attempt to catch up.
The explosion ripped apart the heavily armoured Rhino bus, throwing it several metres over the central reservation of the main road. Many of the windows in a building half a kilometre away that is used by Afghan MPs were smashed. "It was a huge blast," said Mohammad Wali, a student who had crossed the road just before the convoy. "It threw the bus about 10 metres and sent shrapnel all across the area."
The vehicle had just begun a journey across the city from Camp Julien, the home of a counter-insurgency school that teaches Afghan troops how to fight guerrilla warfare, to Camp Phoenix, a base housing American trainers who work with the Afghan army and the police force. Kabul's deputy police chief said that eight civilians were wounded in addition to the four killed, while a police officer was also killed.
One officer at the scene reported that he has seen three dead children whose bodies were severely burned. Three Australian troops were also killed in the southern province of Uruzgan when an Afghan soldier opened fire. Two died immediately, and a third died later of his wounds.