- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 18, 2009

KABUL, Afghanistan | A suicide car bomb attack Saturday on a heavily guarded road between the German Embassy and a U.S. military base in the Afghan capital killed one U.S. service member and four Afghan civilians, officials said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said German military personnel in Kabul and other foreign troops were the targets.

U.S. military spokesman Col. Jerry O’Hara said one U.S. service member died from wounds received in the 9:45 a.m. attack on a busy Kabul street. The blast also wounded six U.S. soldiers and one U.S. civilian, he said.

“They detonated this explosive device right in a crowded area that was both used by civilians and military people,” Col. O’Hara said.

Firefighters and soldiers doused burning vehicles with water. Afghan security personnel and U.S. soldiers carried a U.S. service member out of a window near the blast.

Four Afghan civilians died in the blast and at least 19 wounded were being treated at two hospitals, the interior minister said. Two other wounded civilians were at other hospitals, said Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, the Defense Ministry spokesman.

The German Embassy shares a small, two-lane road with Camp Eggers, a U.S. base that serves as the headquarters for soldiers who train Afghan police and army personnel. Dozens of armed Afghan security personnel guard the street, and blast walls of concrete and sand-filled mesh-wire boxes line the road.

“It did not breach the wall [of the base],” said Lt. Col. Chris Kubik, a U.S. military spokesman. “It was fairly close, but I can’t tell you if they were targeting us or not.”

A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin said “some personnel” were wounded in the blast, but he did not give numbers. He said he had no reports of deaths.

Windows inside the German compound shattered in the explosion, but the wall protecting the compound was still intact, he said. The spokesman refused to give his name for publication, citing government policy.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said a Taliban suicide bomber named Shumse Rehman carried out the attack in a Toyota Corolla. He said the bomber targeted two vehicles believed to be carrying German military officers.

“The Germans have forces in the north of Afghanistan and they are involved in the killing of innocent Afghans. The Taliban will target all those countries who have forces in Afghanistan,” he said.

Mr. Mujahid said the Taliban had been monitoring the movements of German vehicles and planned the attack to target officers.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned “this cowardly act of barbarity.”

“Germany stands by its commitment in Afghanistan,” Mr. Steinmeier said. “We will not let terror deter us from continuing our aid to the Afghan people.” Germany has 3,200 troops in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai also condemned the attack and offered condolences to the victims’ families.

“These kind of un-Islamic and inhumane acts will only increase people’s hatred for the terrorists,” Mr. Karzai said.

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