KABUL — Afghan militants armed with explosives and firearms attacked a NATO compound just outside of Kabul early Tuesday, killing seven people and wounding several others, according to a high-ranking police official.
The seven killed include four private security guards from Nepal, one Afghan guard and two Afghan truck drivers waiting to get inside the compound when the attack began.
Kabul provincial Police Chief Mohammad Ayuob Salangi said the attack was carried out by four men, one of whom rammed an explosive-laden truck into the compound’s gate. The others were wearing suicide vests, Deputy Chief of Police Dawoud Amin told USA TODAY. All four were killed in the explosion and subsequent gunbattle.
A truck packed with explosives left a crater more than 30-feet wide, blowing open the compound gate. The other militants entered the breach before exploding their vests. The blast destroyed several buildings and reduced more than a dozen tractor trailers to smoldering, twisted heaps of charred metal.
The attack occurred just off a main highway linking Kabul to the country’s eastern provinces that is lined with compounds for private companies that supply NATO forces.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a series of attacks carried out in and around the capital.
Shopkeeper Bismillah Khan said he was just about to open his store when there was a large explosion about 100 yards away, sending him and others scurrying for safety. “It was a huge blast that knocked all of us to the ground,” Khan said.
Bombings and other violence are on the rise in the Afghan capital in recent weeks, targeting both local government offices and foreign interests. The uptick in violence comes amid U.S. efforts to hold peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar, home of the militant group’s recently opened office.
Earlier this week, Afghan military officials reported that attacks on policemen left nearly 300 security forces dead over the last month, one of the highest counts since the beginning of the war.
Local and national police are increasingly targeted by the Taliban and other militant groups as they take over security operations throughout the country.
At the same time, deaths tolls for U.S. and NATO forces are down as they scale back combat operations.
Photo: Carmen Gentile for USA TODAY