KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Taliban suicide bomber killed 14 Nepalese security guards in an attack Monday on their minibus in the Afghan capital, the Interior Ministry and an Afghan security official said.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a bomb rigged to a motorbike killed 10 Afghan civilians during morning rush hour in a busy market. A second Taliban bombing in Kabul killed an Afghan civilian and wounded five people, including a provincial council member who was the intended target of that attack, authorities said.
The Nepalese were on their way to the Canadian Embassy, where they work as guards, when the explosion took place on Monday morning, according to a Nepalese guard who was wounded in the attack.
Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion condemned the attacks, including the one that killed the security guards, and offered condolences.
“Many of the victims have been part of our embassy family for years, and they will be remembered for their service in the protection of the men and women at the Embassy of Canada to Afghanistan,” Dion said.
The Taliban have stepped up attacks as part of their summer offensive, and frequently target government employees and Afghan security forces across the country.
The bomber who killed the Nepalese was on foot when he struck the minibus, said Gen. Abdul Rahman Rahimi, Kabul’s police chief. He did not identify the foreign security company the guards work for.
The Interior Ministry confirmed that all 14 killed were Nepalese citizens, describing the attack as the work of a “terrorist suicide bomber.” It said the explosion also wounded nine people, five Nepalese employees and four Afghan civilians.
Amrit Rokaya Chhetri, a Nepalese guard wounded in the attack, told The Associated Press they were on their way to the Canadian Embassy when the blast took place.
“Many people died,” Chhetri said from his hospital bed, his head covered with bandage. “I say to my family, I am OK and I will come home.”
Abdullah Abdullah, the country’s chief executive, condemned the attack in a posting on Twitter, calling it “an act of terror and intimidation.”
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement. An Islamic State affiliate also claimed responsibility for the Kabul attack, identifying the suicide bomber as Erfanullah Ahmed. The conflicting claims could not immediately be reconciled.
Bharat Raj Paudyal, the spokesman for Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the government is aware of Monday’s incident in Kabul and is trying to verify the names of the victims and details about the bombing. Nepal does not have an embassy in Afghanistan but the embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, is working to get the details, he said.
Insurgents frequently target buses carrying civil servants, or those perceived to be working for the Kabul government. In late May, a suicide bomber struck a minibus carrying court employees during morning rush hour in Kabul, killing 11 people. The Taliban claimed the attack.
In the northeastern Badakhshan province, the bomb planted on a parked motorbike killed at least 10 Afghan civilians and wounded 40 others, according to Naved Froutan, spokesman for the provincial governor.
The explosion took place in the main bazaar in Kashim district, he said, adding that “an investigation is underway to determine the target of the attack, but all victims of the attack are civilians,” including women and children.
Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, denied any involvement in the blast in Badakhshan, though the insurgent group regularly targets security forces there.
The second blast in Kabul went off near the home of provincial council member Mawlavi Attaullah Faizani as his vehicle was passing by, said Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the interior minister. Mujahid said the Taliban had carried out the attack and that the council member was the target. The IS affiliate also claimed the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S.-based firm that monitors jihadi groups.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned all three attacks, saying “terrorists do not hesitate to kill people even during the holy month of Ramadan.”
Associated Press writers Amir Shah in Kabul, Afghanistan, Binaj Gurubacharya in Kathmandu, Nepal, and Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.