A Taliban suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden car into a convoy carrying foreign troops in Kabul on Tuesday, triggering a massive blast that shook the city, causing an unknown number of casualties.
At the side of the road, foreign troops gave first-aid to some blood-stained fellow soldiers from the convoy, but the nationality of those involved was unclear.
The explosion occurred near the main entrance to the heavily fortified US embassy at about 8:00 am (0330 GMT) during heavy rush-hour traffic, with several people badly wounded, an AFP photographer at the scene said.
One vehicle from the convoy was thrown off the road and destroyed by the blast, which was also close to the Supreme Court and a military base.
It was the first major attack in the capital for weeks, as Afghan politicians try to end a stalemate over the result of June 14 presidential elections.
“It was a suicide car bomber targeting a foreign forces convoy along the airport road,” Farid Afzali, chief of the city’s police investigation department, told AFP.
The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility via a recognised Twitter account. The two presidential candidates in the election on Monday held talks on ending the deadlock over who won the election to replace President Hamid Karzai, who has ruled since the fall of the Taliban.
Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah have been wrangling over a power-sharing deal after the vote was engulfed in allegations of massive fraud that have threatened to spark instability as US-led NATO troops pull out of the country.
Ghani, who is widely tipped to emerge as the new president, won the run-off election according to preliminary results, but Abdullah has consistently said he was the victim of state-backed ballot-rigging.
Aimal Faizi, spokesman for Karzai, declined to give details of the agreement, which both campaign teams have previously said would hinge on the power held by a new chief executive officer (CEO), who would be nominated by the election loser.
The stand-off has threatened to wreck hopes that the US-led military and civilian aid effort since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 would leave Afghanistan as a democratic country.
With the government paralysed for months, it has also emboldened the Taliban insurgents, weakened the fragile economy and put future international military and aid support at risk.
The United Nations has expressed fears that a disputed election result could revive the ethnic violence of the 1990s civil war, when nationwide chaos allowed the Taliban to come to power.
The blast on Tuesday shook nearby buildings and set off siren alarms at the US embassy as emergency vehicles raced through the streets to the scene, which is one of the busiest intersections in the Afghan capital. SAPA