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MENAFN - Arab News - 18/12/2012

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(MENAFN - Arab News) A Taleban car bomb targeted a US company in Kabul yesterday, killing two person and wounding at least 30 shortly after a landmine killed 10 young girls in eastern Afghanistan, officials said.

It was the most brazen assault targeting Westerners in the fortified Afghan capital since a suicide car bomber killed 12 people, including eight South Africans, on Sept. 18.

The security officer for Contrack, a McLean, Va.-based company that builds facilities for military bases, said a suicide attacker drove a vehicle packed with explosives up to the exterior wall of the compound and detonated the bomb. Afghan police said they could not confirm if it was a suicide attack or a remotely detonated bomb that had been placed in a parked vehicle.

Two Afghan employees of the company were killed in the attack and at least 15 others were wounded, said deputy Interior Ministry spokesman Najibullah Danish. He did not have information on any of the foreign employees.
The Taleban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was a suicide car bombing carried out by a "hero mujahid" on "an important American company which provided security services to the invading forces."

"This company was under the surveillance of the mujahideen for a while and thanks God today the opportunity was provided to attack it," Taleban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.

The militia, which was ousted from power in Kabul by a 2001 US-led invasion, is fighting to bring down the Western-backed government and to expel US-led foreign troops. An AFP reporter at the scene said there were signs of a huge explosion beyond an area blocked off by police, and some bystanders had also suffered minor injuries.

A US-led NATO force of some 100,000 troops is backing the Kabul government against the Taleban insurgents, but they are due to pull out in 2014 and are training the Afghan army and police to take over responsibility for security.

In eastern Afghanistan, 10 girls aged 9-11 died when one of them accidentally struck a mine with an axe as they were collecting firewood before going to school in a Taleban-troubled area.

"An old mine left over from the time of the jihad (against Soviet troops in the 1980s) exploded, killing 10 girls and wounding two others," Chaparhar district governor Mohammad Sediq Dawlatzai told AFP.

Despite international clearance efforts, more than three decades of war have left Afghanistan one of the most heavily-mined countries in the world.
The explosives were placed during three recent conflicts: the 1980s war against the Soviets, the 1990s civil war, and during fighting between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban before they were ousted from power in 2001.

Afghanistan remains one of the most heavily landmined countries in the world despite years of clearing operations. Many mines are left in rural areas from the 1990s and discovered only when they are triggered accidentally.


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