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Afghan Suicide Attack Kills Seven, Raises Security Concerns Ahead Of Elections


NATO soldiers secure the site of the attack
A suicide car bomb has exploded outside the NATO military headquarters in Kabul, killing at least seven people and wounding dozens more.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the August 15 attack, which comes just days before the August 20 presidential election, and officials are concerned that there will be more attacks in the city in coming days.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said at least 90 people, including children, were wounded in the attack that occurred in the heavily fortified district, which is home to the U.S. embassy, presidential palace, and many other foreign diplomatic missions and international organizations as well as Afghan government buildings.

U.S. Embassy Targeted

A Taliban spokesman told news agencies that the target of the attack was the U.S. embassy.

RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan reports that an Afghan parliamentarian Hawa Alam Nuristani and at least four soldiers from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force were among people wounded in the blast.

An official with the Transport Ministry, which is located nearby, said dozens of people inside the ministry building were hurt by flying glass as the blast shattered the windows.

An eyewitness, who works for the Transport Ministry said, "We were inside the ministry building when a very large and strong explosion happened."

"All the windows at the ministry were shattered. We all rushed toward the street to see what had happened. Many ministry employees had their heads injured, limbs broken or were in very bad condition,” the eyewitness said.

Another eyewitness told Radio Free Afghanistan that most of the casualties were Afghan civilians.

The suicide bomber evaded several security checkpoints to reach the area. The attacker detonated the explosives as Afghan security forces stopped the vehicle in front of the NATO headquarters.

Heightened Security

Increased security measures are in place in Kabul in recent weeks as the country gears up for the August 20 presidential and provincial council elections.

Hundreds of additional police and army soldiers have been deployed onto Kabul’s streets.

The Taliban has repeatedly threatened to attack polling stations and warned Afghans not to vote.

The August 15 suicide attack raised concerns in Kabul that there will be more such strikes in the capital and elsewhere in Afghanistan.

Abdul Ghafar Sayeedzada, the chief of Kabul’s criminal investigation department, told reporters that additional checkpoints and extra troops will be in place to prevent militant attacks in the capital.

Written by RFE/RL correspondent Farangis Najibullah with Radio Free Afghanistan and agency reports