Jun 30, 8:43 AM EDT

Taliban claims car bomb attack in Kabul; 1 dead



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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A suicide attacker driving an explosives-packed vehicle targeted a NATO military convoy in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Tuesday, killing at least one person and wounding up to 24, police, military and government officials said. Two U.S. soldiers were also injured in the attack.

"It was a suicide car bomber," said Kabul deputy police chief Sayed Gulagha. The blast sent a huge plume of black smoke over the city and scattered glass and metal across the main highway to Kabul's airport.

A spokeswoman for NATO's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Capt. Susan Harrington confirmed that two American soldiers were injured in the attack, sustaining minor injuries.

She said all personnel and vehicles had been removed from the attack site.

The Taliban sent a text message to The Associated Press claiming responsibility for the attack. Attacks on foreign forces' convoys, as well as hotels and residences used by foreigners, have been regular incidents in Kabul.

At least two of the convoy's armored vehicles were badly damaged in the explosion, which happened around 1.20 p.m. less than a kilometer (half a mile) from the American Embassy. Embassy spokeswoman Heather Eaton said all personnel were accounted for.

The spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Sediq Sediqqi, said that at least one person, a civilian, was killed in the attack and at least 24 wounded.

Chief of Kabul hospitals for the Ministry of Public Health, Kabir Amiri, said the wounded included four children and three women.

Eyewitnesses said the attack happened during early afternoon prayers, and that people who rushed out of a nearby mosque had turned on the foreign soldiers and journalists, throwing stones at them.

The blast badly damaged at least two of the heavily armored military vehicles in the convoy.

The attack happened as government employees were leaving their offices and roads were choked with vehicles as the working day is shortened during the Ramadan fasting month.

Eyewitness Ahmad Farhad said: "I saw a Toyota Corolla target the convoy of foreign forces, I saw two to three damaged vehicles and wounded victims were everywhere and there was no one to help them."

It comes a week after an audacious attack on the nation's parliament, which highlighted the ability of insurgents, who have been fighting to overthrow the Kabul government for almost 14 years, to enter the highly fortified capital to stage deadly attacks.

Also on Tuesday, a suicide attack on the police headquarters of southern Helmand province killed up to three people and wounded more than 50, including policemen, officials said.

Omar Zawak, spokesman for the governor of Helmand province, said most of the injured were women and children.

Police spokesman Farid Hamad Obaid said a car packed with explosives was driven into the back wall of the police headquarters in an attempt to breach a gate. All the gunmen fled when security forces arrived, he said.

Also Tuesday in eastern Paktya province, three people were killed and one wounded when their vehicle hit a roadside mine, the provincial police chief Zalmai Oryakhel said.

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Associated Press writers Amir Shah in Kabul and Mirwais Khan in Kandahar, Afghanistan contributed to this story.

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