KABUL: A suicide bomber blew himself up near a Nato base in Kabul’s heavily-fortified diplomatic district on Wednesday, killing two Afghan security guards and wounding two government officials, police said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility and said the target was a CIA office.
“One suicide attacker and two security guards were killed in the attack and one security guard was injured,” Kabul police chief Mohammad Ayoub Salangi said, dismissing reports that a second bomber was involved.
“Two members of the defence ministry who were inside their car parked at the site of the attack have also been wounded.”
Salangi said the bomber, who was wearing a security guard’s uniform and was carrying an automatic rifle and grenades, came under fire but managed to detonate his explosives.
Shrapnel hit a passing vehicle of Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) but no personnel were injured, a spokesman said.
“All Isaf bases in the green zone are secure,” he added.
The blast was heard across the capital’s diplomatic district, prompting the US embassy to sound its “duck and cover” alarm.
A photographer saw three bodies, including that of the bomber, near Camp Eggers, a major Nato military base in the zone.
The target remained unclear but the police chief said the bomber was trying to enter a tall building under construction.
The Taliban said in a text message that “a large number of fedayeen (suicide bombers) armed with light and heavy weapons attacked an important office of the CIA in the centre of Kabul and the fighting is continuing.”
“The enemy has suffered heavy losses but a precise number can’t be determined at this time.”
The European Union (EU) and international rights groups on Wednesday condemned Afghanistan’s execution of eight prisoners and urged Kabul to drop plans to hang more soon.
“The Afghan government should end its sudden surge of executions and institute a moratorium on further executions,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
“The weakness of the Afghan legal system and the routine failure of courts to meet international fair trial standards make Afghanistan’s use of the death penalty especially troubling,” it said.
“The death penalty should never be used to achieve political gain or popularity,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific deputy director. “We urge President Karzai to halt these executions immediately. The sheer number of people who could be killed by the state is a particularly shocking use of what is the ultimate cruel and inhuman form of punishment.”
The EU mission in Afghanistan called on the government to commute all death sentences and to reintroduce a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing capital punishment.
“The European Union is opposed to the use of capital punishment in all cases and under any circumstances. The death penalty is cruel and inhumane,” the EU delegation said in a statement.
The Taliban warned of reprisals if the Afghan government executes any of its militants.
The Taliban said they had “credible reports” that some Taliban members on death row were scheduled for execution.
If the “prisoners of war” were executed there would be “heavy repercussions for lawmakers, courts and other related circles of the Kabul administration”, the Islamists said in a statement on their website.