KABUL, Afghanistan, AP – A suicide car bomb outside a NATO military base in a western Afghan city Saturday killed two Afghans and wounded seven others — the second such attack on a foreign military base in as many days.
The explosions highlighted the increasing risk to foreign forces as they expand into new areas across Afghanistan. A suicide attack outside a U.S.-led coalition base Friday wounded two U.S. military service members and one U.S. civilian contractor in southern Helmand province.
Saturday’s attack occurred near the gates of the base in Herat city, which is home to hundreds of Italian soldiers, said police chief Gen. Mohammed Ayub Salingi.
A spokesman for the NATO force, Warrant Officer Cosimo Argentieri, said no foreign troops were killed. He said one foreign civilian inside the base was slightly wounded in an arm.
He said the blast was being investigated, but declined to give further details.
Salingi said a suicide attacker drove a vehicle up to the gates of the base and detonated explosives inside the car.
One of the dead was an Afghan guard at the base, and the other was a passer-by, he said. The attacker also died.
Saturday’s attack in Herat was unusual because the city, near Afghanistan’s western border with Iran, has been spared much of the violence that has wracked southern and eastern parts of the country.
The majority of the city’s residents are ethnic Tajiks, unlike the Taliban rebels, who are predominantly ethnic Pashtun.
There was also a second suicide bombing on Friday in Helmand. It was against a convoy of Afghan army trucks, but only caused minor damage to the vehicles and hurt no one else.
Helmand is Afghanistan’s main opium poppy growing region and much of the profits from the illicit business are believed to go to the insurgents.
The Taliban have stepped up attacks against foreign forces in Afghanistan and President Hamid Karzai’s U.S.-backed government. Some 1,600 people were killed in fighting last year, the most since U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban in 2001.
In the past six months, the rebels have started using suicide attackers, a new threat that is proving hard to counter.