A powerful explosion targeting an armored NATO convoy in the Afghan capital Kabul on Wednesday killed at least eight people and wounded 25, including three coalition soldiers, officials said. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.
The explosion came during morning rush hour on a busy road near the US embassy and NATO headquarters.
Wednesday’s attack killed mostly civilians, an interior ministry spokesman told AFP without giving a breakdown. NATO said three coalition soldiers had received “non-life threatening wounds”.
“(They) are in stable condition, and are currently being treated at coalition medical facilities,” a spokesman for US Forces-Afghanistan said, without confirming their nationalities.
The blast, which NATO said was an improvised explosive device (IED), damaged two of the heavily armored MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles carrying the foreign soldiers and left a small crater in the road, witnesses and an AFP photographer said.
MRAPs, which are designed to withstand large explosions, are routinely used by international forces moving around Kabul.
At least three civilian cars were also damaged, with one ablaze, while windows even several hundred meters away were shattered. Firefighters and ambulances rushed stunned survivors to hospital.
One security source told AFP that a white Toyota Corolla had exploded as the convoy drove by, though that had not been verified by officials.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the blast via its Amaq propaganda agency, saying the eight dead were all American soldiers. The jihadists are known to exaggerate their claims.
Pentagon chief Jim Mattis warned of “another tough year” for both foreign troops and local forces in Afghanistan when he visited Kabul last month.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told a German newspaper Sunday that the alliance was considering boosting its troop strength once more given the “challenging” security situation.
The US has around 8,400 troops in the country with about another 5,000 from NATO allies. Most are taking part in NATO’s train, assist and advise mission, though some are also carrying out counter-terror missions targeting ISIS and al-Qaeda.
Afghan forces have struggled to contain the Taliban since US-led NATO troops ended their combat mission in December 2014.