Taliban-led insurgents strike Kabul airport

McClatchy NewspapersSeptember 8, 2009 

WORLD NEWS AFGHANISTAN SE

Smoke billows into the air following an attack by a suicide bomber at Kabul Airport in Afghanistan on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009. (Hal Bernton/Seattle Times/MCT)

HAL BERNTON — MCT

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber blew up a car in front of a gate at the Kabul airport on Tuesday morning as the Taliban-led insurgency once again struck at the capital city.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the casualty toll was still unclear but an Afghan government official said that three Afghan civilians died and at least six were injured.

The attack occurred at the southern gate which is used by military as well as international contractors.

Several witnesses said that the bomber appeared to target a convoy that was approaching the gate, speeding down a road that leads up to the airport and the detonating the bomb.

"I heard a powerful explosion and went straight to the site," said Ahmad Merwais, a mechanic who was taking the day off and playing soccer at a nearby field.

As he approached, Merwais saw several destroyed cars, and several dead and wounded. Merwais also said he saw a damaged Toyota Land Cruiser and two foreigners lying on the ground.

An Afghan military official, Muhibullah also said he saw two foreigners who were struck by the blast.

A public affairs officer for the International Security Assistance Force said preliminary reports indicated several NATO soldiers had been injured but none of the wounds appeared serious.

As of Tuesday afternoon, however, there were no confirmed reports of other casualties from Afghan or international officials. The Kabul airport is hub of civilian traffic, and also has military flights. It is located on the northeast side of town, about 6 miles from the downtown area.

An Afghan security official said the the blast occurred at 8:19 a.m.

"Three Afghan by-passers who were going to their jobs in this month of Ramadan, they were martyred," said Gen. Abdul Ghafar Sayeezada, an investigator with the Kabul Police who visited the site of the bomb attack.

About an hour later black smoke billowed up from the site, and several small explosions could be heard.

Less than a month ago, on Aug. 15, another suicide bomber, breached security in front of NATO headquarters in Kabul and detonated an SUV full of explosives. That blast killed at least seven people, and wounded more than 90.

Today's attack came as the effort to select a new Afghanistan president has become bogged down by fraud allegations, and there is yet no winner from the Aug. 20 election.

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