6 Americans die in suicide blast in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide car bombing on Thursday tore through a U.S. convoy in Kabul, killing at least 15 people — including six Americans — in a blast so powerful that it rattled the other side of the capital.
U.S. soldiers rushed to help, some wearing only T-shirts or shorts under their body armor.
A Muslim militant group claimed responsibility for the morning rush-hour attack. It said the bombing was carried out by a new suicide unit formed in response to reports that the United States plans to keep bases and troops in Afghanistan even after the 2014 deadline for the end of the foreign combat mission.
Hizb-e-Islami said its fighters stalked the Americans for a week to learn their routine before striking — a claim that raises questions about U.S. security procedures.
Two children were among nine Afghan civilians killed in the attack.
“I can't find my children. They're gone! They're gone!” their father screamed before collapsing to the ground as neighbors swarmed to comfort him.
Two U.S. soldiers were killed, as were four American civilian contractors with DynCorp International. The company, a defense contractor based in Falls Church, Va., said its employees were working with U.S. forces training the Afghan military when the blast occurred.
The bombing was the deadliest attack to rock Kabul in more than two months and followed a series of other assaults on Americans — even as U.S.-led forces are focusing more on training while leaving the combat against militants to their Afghan counterparts.
The explosion pushed the monthly toll for the coalition to 18 — making May the deadliest month so far this year. By comparison, 44 international troops were killed in the same period last year. The overall number of coalition deaths has dropped as Afghan forces increasingly take the lead.
The suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car about 8 a.m. and set nearby buildings on fire. The blast left body parts scattered on the street along with the mangled wreckage of one of the U.S. vehicles.
Kabul Deputy Police Chief Daud Amin said it is difficult to count the dead.
“We saw two dead bodies of children on the ground,” Amin said. “But the rest of the bodies were scattered around.” Thirty-five Afghans were wounded, according to the Health Ministry.