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2 civilians dead in Kabul attack near housing for foreigners

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KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide car bomber driving a Toyota Corolla targeted a convoy of foreign vehicles Friday near a residential complex on the outskirts of Kabul that houses members of the international community, killing two civilians and wounding four, officials said.

The two-car convoy was hit as it passed the heavily fortified Green Village that houses many contractors who work as security guards for the United Nations and other international agencies. Most foreigners were evacuated from the area, said Sidiq Sidiqqi, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, so it wasn’t immediately clear whether any suffered fatalities. Nor was it known whether anyone inside the vehicles was injured, officials added.

The Taliban took responsibility for the early evening attack, the latest it has directed at symbols of foreign and Afghan authority. The strike sent a thick plume of smoke across eastern Kabul, the capital.

“Attackers targeted a convoy of invaders as well as their important military support at a compound in Kabul, inflicting heavy casualties,” Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said in a statement emailed to journalists. The Taliban has a history of exaggerating claims and taking responsibility for attacks it didn’t initiate.

The Green Village compound was the object of a similar attack last year. Kabul police said in a statement that the latest incident was under investigation, reportedly the first major attack in the capital since July.

Foreign combat troops are set to withdraw from Afghanistan by late 2014. Analysts say that the Taliban has stepped up attacks on Western and Afghan government targets in recent months hoping to accelerate the foreign departure, discredit the state and offer itself as the only true defender of Afghan sovereignty.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, confirmed in a statement that a car bomb attack took place in Kabul but placed the death toll lower. “There was one enemy killed as a result of the attack,” it said. “We have no operational reports of ISAF personnel fatalities.”

Police reported shortly after the attack started that the Green Village residential compound was its target but later downplayed that idea. In addition to contractors, the area houses European diplomats and United Nations employees.

Green Village was attacked by a suicide car bomber and armed militants in May 2012, killing eight people, mostly Afghan guards. None of its residents was injured.

German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere told the DPA news agency in Berlin that the German Embassy in Kabul would close temporarily due to security concerns, without providing details.

Earlier on Friday, a suicide bomber riding a motorcycle detonated explosives near a convoy of North Atlantic Treaty Organization vehicles in the Bagram district of Parwan province without causing any damage, officials said. The insurgent group Hezb-i-Islami claimed responsibility for that attack.

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Twitter: @markmagnier

mark.magnier@latimes.com

Special correspondent Baktash reported from Kabul and Times staff writer Magnier from New Delhi.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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