KABUL, Afghanistan — Two Taliban suicide bombers struck near a U.S. base in Kabul early Wednesday, killing two Afghan guards in the heart of a neighborhood filled with foreign forces and embassies.
The attack came despite increased security ahead of a Muslim holy day that last year saw one the capital’s deadliest attacks.
The bombers, wearing suicide vests, approached on foot.
Two Afghan security guards were killed and five civilians were wounded in the morning explosion, he said.
The blast reverberated around Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood. An alarm started going off at the nearby U.S. Embassy, warning staff to take cover.
The neighborhood also is home to many high-ranking Afghan officials, international organizations and the headquarters of the international military coalition.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing in an email to reporters.
The attack came as foreign and Afghan forces tightened their watch over the capital ahead of the Saturday observance of Ashoura, when Shiite Muslims commemorate the seventh-century death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson.
Last year, the commemoration saw the first major sectarian attack since the U.S. troops toppled the Taliban regime in 2001 for sheltering Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network after the terrorist attack on the United States.
In the strike last year, a suicide bomber detonated his vest amid scores of worshippers at a Shiite shrine, killing 56 people and wounding more than 160 others.
Attacks in Kabul are relatively rare. Recent strikes have not been particularly deadly, but they have shown the continued ability of the insurgents to penetrate the security cordons that surround the city.
In an attack last week, terrorists fired four rockets into the city, killing one person.
The rockets hit near the airport, a private television station and close to a compound used by the Afghan intelligence service.
Wednesday’s bombers were also armed with grenade launchers, said Gen. Amin. He said they were stopped near a building that was under construction near the U.S. base.
An international coalition vehicle was also damaged in the attack but there were no initial reports of casualties among the foreign forces, said Jamie Graybeal, a NATO troops spokesman.
Police had already set up extra checkpoints around Kabul and specifically near shrines to search cars and people in the run up to Ashoura.