Two Western security guards were killed when their convoy was attacked by a suicide car bomber in the Afghan capital on Thursday, police officials and witnesses said.
The Taliban, who are fighting foreign troops and the Afghan government, claimed responsibility for the attack on a road leading east out of the city.
The interior ministry said two people were killed and eight wounded in the attack but did not identify the victims. Police officials and witnesses, however, said the dead were two Western security workers.
Their armored vehicle was destroyed and another disabled in the attack.
Foreign troops swiftly cordoned off the blast site, near a NATO facility.
Several suicide attacks
Kabul has been the scene of several Taliban suicide attacks this year including one that killed more than 20 policemen in the heart of the city on June 17.
Violence has surged in the past 17 months, the bloodiest period since the Taliban’s removal from power in 2001.
Meanwhile, the last of 18 mine-clearing experts seized by the Taliban at the weekend were released unharmed on Thursday, but the insurgent group has kept hold of key detection equipment as well as three specialist sniffer dogs.
Shohab Hakimi, head of the Mine Detection Dog Center, told Reuters nine workers had been freed on Wednesday night and the remainder early on Thursday morning.
“They are in good health,” he said. “They were looked after OK and they were well-fed.”
But Hakimi said he was concerned for the fate of the dogs — which can take years to train — and said the equipment seized would be useless in the wrong hands.
'Doing a good job for Afghanistan'
“They (the Taliban) told us they had investigated the workers and found they were doing a good job for Afghanistan so have released them,” he said.
Hakimi paid credit to local tribal leaders in Ghazni province, where the mine clearers worked, for helping negotiate their release.
Afghanistan remains one of the mostly heavily mined countries in the world, a legacy of decades of conflict as well as the 10-year Soviet occupation.
A number of non-governmental bodies have mine-clearing operations in the country, and their activities have been well supported at home and in the West following the international campaign spearheaded by Britain’s late Princess Diana.
The Taliban scattered after they were driven from power but have now re-grouped in the south and east — the poppy-producing regions responsible for over 90 percent of the world’s heroin — and are engaged in daily clashes with U.S.-led and Afghan troops as summer heralds an increase in fighting.