A suicide car bomber attacked a military convoy including U.S. troops in the Afghan city of Kandahar on Wednesday, killing three Afghan civilians, witnesses and a senior local official said.
The scene of the blast, which struck in the morning rush-hour in the center of the southern city, was cordoned off and a clear picture of the attack had yet to emerge, with the U.S. military suggesting the coalition convoy had not taken a direct hit.
“I can confirm that there was a blast in the vicinity of a coalition convoy,” Col. Jerry O’Hara, spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, told Reuters. “Initial report says there was no damage to equipment or to the coalition.”
The Taliban, Afghanistan’s former rulers who are fighting an insurgency against U.S.-led forces that overthrew them, claimed responsibility for the blast in their former stronghold.
“Taliban killed four U.S. soldiers in a suicide car bomb attack in Kandahar today,” Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf told Reuters.
O’Hara said he had no information on a report, by Kandahar Gov. Assadullah Khalid, that three American soldiers had been slightly injured in the attack.
Kandahar used to be the main bastion of the Taliban until they were deposed by U.S.-led forces in 2001.
Dozens of foreign aid agencies are based in the city, which has been subjected to a series of suicide attacks and Taliban-linked violence in the past two months.
“Three civilians have been killed in this suicide incident,” Khalid said. Four Afghan bystanders were wounded, he added.
U.S. soldiers had sealed off the scene of the attack.
On Monday, two suicide car-bomb attacks killed at least four people, including one German soldier with the NATO-led peacekeeping force in the capital, Kabul.