Afghan explosions kill 16 at embassy, school
KABUL, Afghanistan – A powerful car bomb detonated outside the office of a U.S. security contractor in the Afghan capital Sunday, killing at least seven people, including two Americans, and wounding several others, officials and witnesses said.
Hours earlier, a blast wrecked a religious school in southeastern Afghanistan, reportedly killing at least eight children and one adult and underlining the country’s fragile security as it moves toward its first post-Taliban election in October.
Security officials have issued several warnings in recent weeks about possible car bombings and suicide attacks in the Afghan capital. NATO forces patrolling Kabul have warned that anti-government militants, including the ousted Taliban, could try to mount spectacular attacks in a bid to disrupt the landmark presidential election scheduled for Oct. 9.
The Kabul explosion hit the office of Dyncorp Inc., an American firm that provides security for Afghan President Hamid Karzai and works for the U.S. government in Iraq, said Nick Downie of the Afghanistan NGO Security Office.
“The explosion … killed at least seven people,” Karzai’s office said in a statement. “Two Americans, three Nepalese and two Afghan nationals, including a child, have been confirmed dead.”
Karzai and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad expressed shock at the bombing.
An American embassy statement said the contractor also was involved in a project to train Afghan police, a key element of the internationally backed plan to prevent the country from reverting to a haven for al-Qaida militants.
The company is believed to employ Nepalese and Americans in Afghanistan, where it reportedly is involved in anti-drug efforts.
“This cowardly attack will not deter U.S. participation in the ongoing effort to help Afghanistan stand on its own feet,” Khalilzad said, describing the bombing as a “terrorist attack.”
Downie said he and others at the scene pulled five or six seriously injured people – including apparent Westerners – from the burning building.
“Some were obviously Dyncorp staff,” said Downie, a former British soldier who advises relief groups on security.
Dyncorp Inc. is a division of Computer Sciences Corp. based in El Segundo, Calif. CSC spokesman Mike Dickerson said the Dyncorp office was hit by “an apparent car bombing.”
On Saturday night, an explosion ripped through the Mullah Khel religious school near Zormat, 80 miles south of Kabul, in southeastern Paktia province. Eight children between the ages of 7 and 15 were killed, and 15 other people were injured, three of them critically.