Three people including a foreigner working with the European Union police were killed Sunday when a Taliban attacker rammed his explosives-laden car into a foreign convoy in Kabul, the latest attack of Afghanistan\’s fighting season.
At least 18 people were wounded in the attack, which comes three days after 14 people — mostly foreigners — were killed in a Taliban assault on a Kabul guest house that trapped dozens attending a concert.
The suicide bomber targeted the foreign convoy, which included two vehicles of the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL), during the Sunday morning rush hour near Kabul airport.
"A suicide bomber detonated his Toyota sedan targeting a foreign forces convoy near Kabul airport today at 9:00 am," Kabul police spokesman Ebadullah Karimi told AFP.
"The target of the attacker was the foreign forces convoy. So far we have two women dead, 18 others wounded, all of them civilians," he said, adding that three children were among those wounded.
A foreigner working with EUPOL was also killed, a spokesman for the unit told AFP without specifying his nationality.
"All we can say at this moment is that two of EUPOL\’s vehicles were there at the time of the attack. The one killed inside a vehicle was a foreigner who worked for EUPOL," said Aziz Basam, senior press officer.
Three mission members who were also in the vehicle suffered injuries which are not believed to be life-threatening, EUPOL said in a separate statement.
An AFP photographer at the scene saw troops hauling away the body of a person in military-style uniform, pulled out from the twisted wreck of a badly damaged sedan.
Taliban insurgents, who have stepped up attacks on foreign targets after launching their spring offensive late last month, claimed responsibility for the car bombing.
"A suicide attack carried out on foreign forces near the gate of Kabul airport," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter.
Afghan forces are facing their first fighting season against the Taliban without the full support of US-led foreign combat troops.
Deputy interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said three civilian vehicles, one of them belonging to foreign troops, were damaged at the site of the attack.
Khalilullah Hodkhil, the deputy head of Wazir Akbar Khan hospital, said he had so far received the bodies of two young girls and 19 wounded people.
"All of them are civilians, including women and children," he told AFP.
"They are under treatment and their wounds are not life-threatening."
The attack came after NATO on Wednesday formally announced plans to retain a small military presence in Afghanistan after 2016 to help strengthen local security forces.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the future mission would be led by civilians and "will have a light footprint, but… (with) a military component".
Afghan forces are now solely responsible for security after NATO\’s combat mission formally ended in December, with a small follow-up force staying on to train and support local personnel.
A Taliban suicide bomb hit a European Union police vehicle in Kabul in early January, killing at least one passer-by but not wounding any passengers.
The Taliban have waged a 13-year war to topple the US-backed government in Afghanistan. Official efforts to bring the insurgents to the negotiating table have so far borne little fruit.
The surge in attacks has taken a heavy toll on Afghan civilians, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
In the first four months of 2015, civilian casualties from growing attacks jumped 16 percent over the same period last year, a recent UNAMA statement said.