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The fundamentalist Islamic movement later announced that its annual “spring offensive” would begin Thursday. The offensive comes every year as the snows melt, making both travel and fighting easier as the Taliban try to retake lost territory and intimidate the Afghan government.
Afghanistan already has seen a spike in violence this year.
The compound, which is known as Green Village, houses hundreds of international contractors, diplomats and aid workers in eastern Kabul. It also was the target of anti-foreigner protests following the burning of Korans at a U.S. base in February. At that time, violent protests raged outside, but the angry crowds did not breach the compound’s defenses.
The compound’s main gate was destroyed Wednesday, with the wreckage of the suicide bomber’s car sitting in front. The road running past it was littered with shoes, books, school supplies and the bloody ID card of a student from a nearby school.
A young man who saw the explosion said the dead pedestrian was one of his fellow classmates.
“I was walking to school when I saw a very big explosion. A car exploded and flames went very high into the air,” said 21-year-old Mohammad Wali. “Then I saw a body of one of my classmates lying on the street. I knew it was a suicide attack and ran away. I was so afraid.”
Mr. Karzai’s office condemned the attack, calling the perpetrators “the slaves of foreigners who don’t want Afghan children to learn.”
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack.
“This was a message to Obama that those are not real Afghans that are signing documents about this country,” Mr. Mujahid said. “The real Afghan nation are those people that are not letting foreign invaders stay in this country or disrespect the dignity of our country.”
He said the target of Wednesday’s attack was a “foreign military base.” A spokesman for the alliance, Capt. Justin Brockhoff, said no NATO bases came under attack.
The Green Village complex, with its towering blast walls and heavily armed security force, is very similar in appearance to NATO bases in the city. An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw a group of Afghan soldiers enter the compound, after which heavy shooting could be heard coming from inside.
Elsewhere, NATO said that two coalition service members were killed Wednesday in a bomb blast in the country’s east. The alliance did not give the nationality of the troops or provide other details.
The Taliban said that this year’s spring offensive would be code-named “Al-Farouk,” the title of the second Muslim caliph, who lived in the seventh century.
They said the offensive would focus on “all those people who work against the Mujahedeen, toil to pave ground for the occupation of Afghanistan and become the cause for the strength of the invaders.”
Associated Press writers Heidi Vogt and Rahim Faiez contributed to this report.
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