1 killed as US Embassy convoy attacked in Afghanistan

Five embassy security personnel wounded in attack by suicide car bomber; Taliban claims responsibility.

afghan violence 88 (photo credit: )
afghan violence 88
(photo credit: )
A suicide car bomber ended months of relative calm in the Afghan capital by exploding his car next to a US Embassy convoy, killing an Afghan teenager and wounding five embassy security personnel on a notoriously dangerous stretch of road. The suicide blast Monday, the first in Kabul since December, propelled one of the armored SUVs across Jalalabad Road, which sees more bombings and rocket attacks than any other area in the capital. The two other US vehicles were also damaged, and flames shot through the wreckage of the suicide car bomb. A 15-year-old Afghan on the side of the road was killed, said Hasib Arian, the district police chief. Five US Embassy security personnel were wounded, one seriously, said Col. Tom Collins, the spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force. The US ambassador, Ronald Neumann, was not in the convoy, said embassy spokesman Joe Mellott. A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said in a phone call to The Associated Press that a Taliban militant from Khost province carried out the attack. The explosion, witnessed by an AP reporter traveling behind the convoy, occurred about 3 kilometers from the embassy on the road that leads to the US base at Bagram and the town of Jalalabad to the east. Late last month, a suicide bomber killed 23 people outside the US base at Bagram during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney. In September, a suicide bombing near the US Embassy killed 16 people, including two US soldiers. Meanwhile, Daniele Mastrogiacomo, a reporter for the Italian daily La Repubblica, was released by the Taliban after two weeks in captivity in Helmand province. Italian Premier Romano Prodi said securing Mastrogiacomo's release "was not simple." In the southern province of Kandahar, a roadside bomb hit a police vehicle, killing Panjwayi district's chief of the criminal division, said provincial police chief Esmatullah Alizai. Elsewhere in Panjwayi, a suicide bomber attacked a team of police working to eradicate poppies, Alizai said. One vehicle was damaged but no one was hurt. Afghanistan has seen an upsurge in Iraq-style violence over the past year as militant supporters of the former Taliban regime have stepped up attacks and increasingly embraced new deadly tactics such as suicide and roadside bombings. The Afghan government, struggling to contain the violence, also must overcome mistrust among Afghans who believe their leaders are more corrupt than the Soviet-backed government in the 1980s or the Taliban-run government in the 1990s. According to a survey released Monday by the independent Integrity Watch Afghanistan, about 60 percent of Afghans said the current administration is more corrupt than any other in the past two decades. "Corruption has undermined the legitimacy of the state," said the group's executive director, Lorenzo Delesgues.